We all have those days right? Those days where nothing goes right in the classroom and we have to scrap the plans to manage behavior or because our students don’t have the skills needed to continue on. Those days where you go home and want to crawl in bed and never come back out. Am I alone in this? I hope and pray that those days are far and few between. I know especially now in the COVID era of teaching it can be so hard to maintain a positive attitude. If you are feeling lost, overwhelmed, unhappy, or extremely stressed, it might be time to revamp your self-care routine.
Self-care has been something I’ve had to really work at over the past few years. I struggle with mental health disorders that can often be made worse when I am not partaking in self care strategies. I am by no means perfect, but I have come to realize these strategies are useful in helping to prevent burn out.
10 Tips for Taking Care of You
They help take your mind off the stress of your job. Do you have one? It could be reading a book, playing games, spending time with friends and family. Whatever you need to help you focus on something other than your job. I used to say that watching TV was my hobby and hate to say it, but that is not a great option. TV can actually harm your mental health according to some research. I’ve started reading books again, walking my dog, and working on dog training with him.
My favorite way to pamper myself is to take a bubble bath. They make everything better. I recommend adding essential oil bath bombs or bath salts. Lavender is a soothing and calming scent that always helps me. Regardless of the method or way you do it, the key is to make sure you are regularly taking care of yourself.
Treat yourself every now and then.
I am a coffee obsessed teacher. On days where I can tell I need a little extra boost, I will sometimes treat myself to an iced coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s a great way to start my day. I also like to shop online with small boutiques and so there’s sometimes a new package in my mailbox. Those hard days can be lifted just slightly when I get to open a little happy mail. These little things are a great pick me up when I’m feeling in a funk.
I might get some hate for this one, but treat your body right. I spent many years eating total junk and many years feeling miserable. It’s amazing how eating healthy foods and as naturally as possible can really impact your overall mood and well obviously make you healthier. There is a link between eating diets high in processed sugar and carbs and poor mental health. I’m not saying that you need to go on a diet. Just be aware of how much you are eating and what it is. Does it make you feel good or just mask how you actually feel.
Exercise gets our endorphins pumping and help alleviate stress. Especially boxing… who doesn’t want to tape a picture to that punching bag am I right? But really, you don’t have to do anything hard core like cross fit if that’s not your thing. The key is moving your body. Take a walk with your significant other or your dog. Spend 15 minutes of your lunch or planning period walking around the outside of your building. Bonus, you’ll get some extra vitamin D. The key is finding something you enjoy that you can add to your routine and sticking with it.
Keep a folder of student and parent notes or affirmations from coworkers. On those really tough days, pull it out and read through it. You’ll find something that inspires you to show up another day in that folder. I know it seems a little cliché but I promise, it’s one of the things that has helped me big time.
Pet a puppy.
You guys think I’m being silly but I’m serious here. Dogs are proven to release endorphins. If you don’t have a dog or a friend with a dog, visit the animal shelter. Volunteering is another great option to get out and do some good in the community. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that we recently adopted Finn in June of 2020. He is the BEST companion and loves to snuggle. It’s hard to stay sad or anxious when he’s around.
Build a support network.
Find someone you can talk to. What is your circle and who is in it? Is it your team, your spouse, your best friend? Who can you talk to when you just need to get it out? I will sometimes call my sister or vent to my best friend from college that teaches 5th grade. I also have friends from the Instagram teacher community that I would say are some of the closest people I have. It doesn’t matter, just make sure you have someone to talk with.
Spend time with your family and friends.
I know that this is hard during this COVID era but it’s more important now that ever. Facetime, Google Meets, Zoom, and other video conferencing software has made it possible to still do this safely. Do something fun with them. When we spend time with people we love, it allows us to de-stress and de-compress. I get together with two different groups of friends every week via zoom on Tuesday and Saturday. It’s helped give me something to look forward to each week.
Most importantly, Give Yourself Grace.
You can’t do it all, fix it all, or be it all. Remember that showing up and loving unconditionally is the most important part of teaching. Everything else can wait.