Teaching is one of the jobs which is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Also, it’s a job you cannot leave at work, so practicing self-care is vital and challenging for teachers. The meaning of self-care is usually mistaken as selfishness, but that’s not true. Self-care is all about taking care of your mental and physical health to be the best teacher for yourself and your students. Teachers who don’t practice self-care are most likely to experience exhaustion and burnout.
So, by taking good care of yourself, you will have the energy to help your students. In addition, by following self-care tips, you will be ready to handle any challenge that will come up during your teaching career.
Why does self-care matter?
People in caregiving positions like teachers find it easier to tell others to take care of their health than to do so themselves. This happens because they are so encouraged to focus their energy on others that they ignore self-care. Self-care is thus essential for teachers to maintain good mental health. Self-care can prevent or reduce stress for teachers.
Over 40% of teachers reported that they feel highly stressed during school hours. Lack of resources, class behavioral problems or pressure are some common causes of the stress faced by a teacher. All types of stress will lead to weakened physical and emotional health.
If self-care practices are not followed, it can lead to burnout, contributing to a high turnover rate in education. Here are some self-care tips that can be incorporated into your daily life:
Start your day with something positive. You can create a positive morning ritual like waking up 15 minutes earlier. Write a journal, meditate, exercise, or read a chapter in a good book while sipping some coffee. Listen to your favorite songs or cuddle with your dog. You can also go for a walk, so say a prayer if you are religious. Spending some quiet time alone before starting something is considered highly beneficial.
Follow healthy habits
You should develop healthy habits like drinking enough water, eating a fully balanced meal, exercising, and getting a proper 8 hours of sleep. Physical happiness leads to mental happiness. These habits will help you to feel stable and strong.
Make time for activities
Doing an activity can relieve stress and make you feel calm, happy, and at peace. These activities can be like taking deep breaths, listening to music, writing a journal, painting, dancing, or anything that makes you happy. Follow these activities daily and pay attention to the triggers of your stress.
Teaching becomes exhausting sometimes, so it is essential to take breaks in between. For example, take a 10–15-minute break at the end of a school day or after each period. During this time,, do not do anything else; just clear your mind, sit back quietly, and relax.
Learn to say no as you can’t do everything for everyone. It’s not essential to volunteer at every school event or attend every game or be a part of a club. Also, don’t take your work to your home; this will lead you to feel more stressed. Set boundaries like you won’t work after 6:00 p.m. or on weekends.
Ask for help
The people who offer the most help are the ones that find it hardest to ask for help. You need to create a robust support system in and out of the school. You can also visit a therapist and relieve stress by talking to them.
Set reasonable expectations from yourself
Remember that teachers are also humans, so be kind to yourself by setting reasonable expectations. Teachers can’t fix every problem of their students during class hours. Don’t feel that you have failed. Instead, think about what you can do. For example, try to create a loving and supportive environment for your classroom. At the end of each day, take a deep breath and say, “I have done what I could do today.”
Try to stay connected with your colleagues and other teachers to relieve stress. This can be a way you can support each other as the challenges you face are common. You can also find a possible solution to the challenges by simply sharing your frustration with a trusted colleague.
Celebrate your success
Self-care is related to self-compassion. You can control your anxiety and stress by being kind to yourself. So, every small moment like a student saying thank you or a student looking forward to your class each day, are moments you should celebrate.
Spend time with a pet
If you have a pet, take advantage of it. Pets are noted to provide mental health benefits to their human companion.
Self-care is a way that can help you in reaching your potential in the classroom, which will, in turn, help your students to succeed too. If you want to avoid stress and burnout, remember to follow self-care practices like eating well, sleeping enough, exercising, etc.
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