The world we live in now is filled with so many opportunities and choices where merely going to the supermarket and choosing which brand of milk to buy can be overwhelming. Technology has brought so many advancements to our lives, but at times it can be a hindrance when we are trying to switch off from the overstimulating world around us.
Add in a demanding job, such as teaching, and there are going to be days, weeks, even months where your mind is whirling too fast to process anything effectively: Was that the best resolution for Jimmy? Did I email those parents? Have I completed the referral form for…? What assessments do I still need to finish? Have I inputted that data? Are my lesson plans up to date? I need to grade those papers… and the list goes on.
For these reasons, it is vital to make self-care a priority in your life. Self-care means to take care of one’s mental, emotional and physical health.
As educators, we are renowned for caring and nurturing others and putting others needs before our own. Due to this, it is so important that we take the time to attend to our needs and recharge our emotional, mental and physical battery packs, so we are prepared and ready for the challenges life throws our way. I believe self-care needs to be a priority in the life of every teacher. So I have put together 5 different ways you can take care of yourself:
Spend time in nature
Leave the phone at home or in the car and get outside. It has been proven that being in nature can reduce stress, anger, fear and increase more positive feelings in the body. Go one step further and take those shoes off and feel the soft grass or smooth sand on the soles of your feet. Earthing/grounding is known to reduce inflammation, stress and improve blood circulation.
Make note of things you do well or achieve
Rather than dwelling on all the things you should have done, focus your energy on all the things you are doing awesomely well! You’ll be surprised how long the list will be and what positive effect it can have on your mindset by recognising all that you have accomplished.
Moving your body has been proven to be beneficial for your body and mood. Exercising releases mood-lifting chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which can be just what you need to override those stressful thoughts in your mind. Find the activity that is best for you. It may be walking, running, swimming, yoga, pilates or team sports. Often you’ll find there is a group of teachers and admin staff who are keen to get physical. Organising a team to play an indoor or outdoor sport is excellent not only for your body but also for building a sense of community.
Do something creative
As educators, we can easily allow the grind of work to consume our whole lives. Instead of creating that amazing lesson plan or inputting the ridiculous amount of data we require nowadays, pick up that sketch pad and start drawing. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to start that DIY project, begin writing again or fix up the weed infested garden beds. Being creative by using your hands, mind and energy and doing something that brings you joy is immensely therapeutic and helps reduce stress.
Create a self-care ritual
Allocate time in your busy week for yourself. This ritual could be daily, such as morning meditation or a cup of green tea (I prefer my cuppa with a hint of chai). Alternatively, it could be a weekly ritual where you run a warm bath and light scented candles. These self-care rituals don’t need to be expensive and the positive impact it has on your well-being will far outweigh the few dollars it may cost.
So perhaps it is time to reflect on what you do to look after numero uno. By making some small adjustments and allowing yourself time to focus on the little things that bring you joy, will help you be the best-prepared educator in mind, body and soul.
If you are interested in making self-care a priority in your life then you may be interested in our self-care journal. It includes checklists filled with ideas, along with journaling pages to assist you in being more accountable for your well-being and creating a better work-life balance.
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