Self-Care for Teachers

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, you will learn some strategies for taking care of the one thing that always seems to get pushed to the back burner when you're a teacher: you.

The Importance of Self-Care

From lesson planning all weekend, to grading papers on weekday evenings, teachers rarely have enough time for themselves. They can easily become sick, exhausted, or suffer from occupational burnout, which creates a sense of hopelessness and apathy towards one's career due to increased stress from the demands of the job. Establishing a self-care practice is just as important as the work done for students; after all, if you can't help yourself, it's very hard to help others. Here are some ways teachers can integrate self-care into their daily routines.

Go Outside Every Day

Spending all day indoors can fuel dissatisfaction and even depression among teachers. It's important to get outside at least once during the work day, every day. Take a short walk around the school building on your lunch break or eat lunch outside. Get in your car and take a quick drive with the windows rolled down. Whatever you decide to do, the fresh air will give your brain a boost of energy and make you feel renewed to tackle the rest of the day.

Take Mini Breaks to Release Stress

Think about what makes you feel most at peace. Whether you enjoy yoga or salsa classes, painting or poetry, find at least ten minutes every day to do something relaxing. Try some relaxing stretches or yoga poses during your lunch break. Listen to relaxing music or download a meditation app for your phone and practice one of the exercises with the lights out. Even taking a few deep breaths to center yourself when you begin to feel stressed can help dramatically improve your well-being.

Practice Saying No

You can't do it all, and if you could, would you even want to? You can be a great teacher while still creating boundaries and learning how to say no. If you've already got enough on your plate, it's okay to tell your boss that you can't volunteer at the school dance this weekend or spearhead a new program for the literacy committee. You don't even have to explain yourself: fortunately, the word no is already a complete sentence.

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