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Self Care Tips for Teachers

 

If you are a teacher–or a parent–you know we ask a lot of our teachers. Even though an educator’s primary role is to help students develop good learning skills, master subjects, and complete coursework, we all know being a teacher means much more than that. It means helping students grow as people. In the climate we are in now, school teachers serve as conflict mediators, mentors, social workers, even nutritionists. More and more often, teachers are asked to help students cope with traumatic events. And this takes its toll. 

Caring for others with high needs is stressful. It’s rewarding, but it also asks a lot of us. Because of the stress that teachers are under, self care is essential. The good news is that school, districts, and even state education departments are growing in their awareness that teacher self care is essential. That means there is more support, time, and resources allocated to provide practical self care strategies for teachers.

What does a practical self care strategy for teachers look like?

What can teachers do for self care? You may already be doing some things that are highly supportive. To boost the well being you experience, you want to be more conscious of what supports you and how you feel. What good self care looks like will vary from person to person, and teachers are no exception. Inner Strength has a unique approach. Effective self care strategies for teachers begins with these three steps:

  1. Unpack Beliefs & Assumptions
  2. Practice Active Listening
  3. Make Self Care a Habit

 

Teacher Self Care Strategy #1: Unpack Assumptions

The first step in designing an effective self care routine is to acknowledge what might be holding you back. It is easy to think things like “I can handle it” or “my students are under more stress than I am.” It’s easy to only see how these beliefs stem from your empathy and determination to help your students. However, they can prevent you from investing in the self care you need to rejuvenate yourself. Self care strategies for teachers that begin with recognizing the internalized taboos first have a better chance of succeeding. When you see the ideas that keep you from incorporating self care into your daily routine, you can see through the barriers and give yourself the support every human being needs to thrive. 

Teacher Self Care Strategy #2: Practice Active Listening

If you’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed at school, most likely  your colleagues are too. You can start practicing self care habits together, just in the way you connect, converse, and spend time in the break room. Active listening practices that are attentive to positivity ignite our mirror neurons and enable us to feel uplifted by another’s positive experience. Active listening to success stories and positive experiences can help colleagues build rapport with one another. 

As a listener, you can practice active listening by:

  • Being aware of your body language, allow your shoulders to relax and your breath to be easy. You’ll experience more receptivity to your colleague and they will relax in response to you.
  • Asking questions that will help the communicator express themselves in more detail. Listen for the questions you can ask that will help another express something new, that they hadn’t thought about yet. Help draw them out so they feel their own sense of insight. When they feel empowered, so will you. 
  • Avoiding the temptation to problem solve. We often don’t know enough or don’t have the time to fix or solve a problem. Our colleagues often need that human connection and encouragement to feel their own way through whatever is on their minds. 

As a communicator, you can:

  • Share a good thing that happened to you. Even something small.  
  • Notice how recalling that happy event or incident, maybe how you saw a baby do something sweet, or a sparrow wrestle with an abandoned slice of pizza, makes you feel. What are the sensations? How are your muscles relaxing. 
  • Describe the positive emotions as much as you describe the events that happened.
  • Take in the relaxation and uplift you feel and allow it to strengthen you. 

 

Teacher Self Care Strategy #3: Make Self Care a Habit

To make self care a habit, notice the positive things you already do and also integrate self care strategies into your work routine. This way, work becomes a positive place where you are actively letting go of stress throughout the day. 

These self care tips can help teachers reframe their work space:

  • Reserve 15 minutes of your work day for reflection and processing. Setting time aside to take care of yourself will make you a better teacher, more available to your students, your colleagues and the school community.
  • Place something beautiful in your workspace, a picture with a color you love, a small desk plant or smooth stone you found. That item will remind you to take a breath, allow yourself to settle, and value your own well being. 
  • Hydrate and keep some healthy snacks in your desk or backpack. A sip of water can relieve tension. A few carrot sticks, grapes, or nuts give you a little nourishment between periods and help you feel a steady state of energy throughout the day. 

Now that you have a foundation, create your own personalized self care toolkit. Include strategies that you enjoy in your customized Teacher Self Care Toolkit. Simple is best. Make a list of 5 healthy habits – easy things you enjoy doing. Put that small reminder on your computer screen or desk, any place that you will see it often throughout the day. This way, when you’re feeling stressed, you’ll remember what to do more automatically, you won’t need to spend energy trying to remember appropriate self care ideas for the moment. You’ll have them right at hand.

Want specific ideas, activities, and practices that will nurture your mental, emotional, and physical wellness? Download our free Self Care Toolkit for Educators, which includes 50 different self care tools and practices.

Ready to practice more Self Care Strategies that work with mindful awareness? Engage Rapid Revitalization, a 5-part experiential self care program designed for teachers. 


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