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As December rolls around, ‘tis the season to start to feel a bit of burnout. How do we keep up with the holly-jolly in the midst of chaos and stress? Educators are constantly pouring our hearts and souls into serving others without a second thought on how we’re taking care of ourselves as individuals. But how can we pour from an empty cup? How can students receive the best version of ourselves if we don’t give ourselves the care we deserve?
This might seem like a radical concept, but it really isn’t: self-care for educators is essential to maintaining a high-quality educational system! Add yourself to the holiday gift list with our useful guide on one of the best things you can do for yourself, your students, and your family.
What is self-care?
In its purest form, self-care is defined as taking an active role in improving upon and protecting one’s own health, wellness, and happiness — especially during times of stress! Taking care of the physical body, along with the mental and emotional aspects, are the core components of ensuring you are completely healthy.
How can I become aware of self-care?
The life of an educator is nonstop. That’s why our first rule of self-care is to take a deep breath and pause. This allows you to fully take in each moment, whether it’s calm or stressful, and gives you the ability to create space between you and the situation. From there, you can assess how to best take control of the situation in a way that most benefits your overall health and happiness.
Sometimes, this can mean taking a break from the situation at hand. Other times, it means just giving your brain a moment to recharge and reset. Maybe it’s a chance to take a sip of your coffee, tea, or water (which also helps you rehydrate!) Of course we cannot walk away from our students or teachers, but we can take the time to mentally break from the situation. This brings up the next point:
How can I prepare for self-care?
Chances are you have a daily routine when it comes to getting ready for another day at school. That might be spending some time doing meal prep for lunch, refilling reusable water bottles, and planning your outfit. Have you thought about how you can use this preparation time to integrate self-care at work?
Start by asking yourself, “What can I give myself that will fill my metaphorical (or literal) cup?” Then ask, “What are some small moments that make me happy?”
For example, pack a healthier snack to fuel your body with nutrients that keep you energized. Or maybe lay out an extra comfy sweater to wear that makes you feel warm and cozy. Maybe it’s packing a photo of a loved one, such as an adored pet or a family photo to keep on your desk and remind you of what awaits you at the end of the day.
Just as you plan your lessons and days at work, the same holds true for planning for your self-care. It could mean alloting one hour for a workout, writing a grocery list that includes your favorite go-to healthy snacks, or leaving post-it notes around your desk to remind yourself to take a deep breath. Plan it out, schedule it, and put it on your calendar to keep yourself accountable! The more you focus on integrating self-care into your daily routine, the easier it becomes.
What acts of self-care can I do?
The most important way to think about self-care is that it can be ANYTHING. From stopping at your favorite coffee shop during your prep period, to taking a moment to breathe deeply, to scheduling a workout, any and all acts of kindness that protect your peace are acts of self-care. Some questions you can ask yourself that will guide you toward your self-care acts are:
The answers to these questions will help you find small ways of integrating self-care into your daily routine.
How do I engage in self-care throughout the daily hustle?
Educators make countless decisions for others throughout the day. We have our routine thought process that puts students first. We engage in conversations, attend or lead professional development, and deliver content to students all in a day’s work. It can be difficult to step away from these responsibilities and put yourself first — but the alternative can lead to us feeling a lot worse or burnt out at the end of each day.
The funny thing is we often teach our students to use positive self-talk and to protect their energy and feelings — but we don’t hold ourselves to the same standards! If you find yourself tensing up or your energy fading, here are some question to ask yourself:
Taking the time to ask yourself these questions can help you re-center your thought process, regain control of the situation, and most importantly, guide you back to taking care of yourself so that you have the energy to take on the day.
Self-care and your students
At the end of the day, it comes down to our students. We want to show up as our best selves so our students receive the highest quality of instruction, care, and inspiration they deserve. But if teachers, principals, and administrators don’t take the time to engage in self-care, our students are the ones who suffer. Remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup.
If our energy decreases, our work performance decreases, which means our students’ educational experience decreases. That’s why the best thing you can do for yourself this holiday season is gift yourself the gift of self-care. Just a few minutes each day of putting yourself first means you can show up for yourself. And from there, you can show up for your students with excitement, eagerness, and a passion for education.
For more on self-care for educators and how to integrate it throughout your day-to-day, contact [email protected]. Our team of administrators and teachers can develop personalized strategies and systems for seamless integration into the daily hustle.