The A-Z of self-care for teachers: 26 tips to use today
There are days where your lesson flops, headaches abound, you miss the bus, fight with a loved one, feel the report cards piling up, or the day unraveling. Take a moment to stitch it back together with our A-Z self-care checklist for teachers.
Apps. There’s one for everything these days. The trick is to use them to simplify and enhance your life—not as professional free time suckers. Download one for meditation, time-tracking, recipe ideas, finding optimal public transport routes, monitoring sleep, your daily 10,000 steps, or anything else you’d like to optimize.
Better balance. Simple steps can have profound results to improve work-life balance. Found yourself still scrolling away at midnight? Turn off your phone. Brought work home even though you really didn’t have to? Put it away. Always rushed in the morning? Get up 15 minutes earlier.
Call a friend. Make regular contact with your loved ones. Check-in, especially when you know they’re having a difficult time—or when you are.
Declutter your desk. An untidy workspace makes it difficult to locate the materials you need and almost impossible for creativity to flow. Your first steps? Recycle the papers you don’t need, file lesson plans by topic, and put up inspiring images or quotes for teachers on your bulletin board. (Then reward yourself by purchasing new office supplies!)
Earth. Walk through the park, go hiking, swimming, sit on the grass, look at the clouds, feed the ducks, plant a herb garden, stare at a tree. Regular contact with nature relaxes us and puts us back in touch with the present moment.
Find your tribe. Teachers, especially freelancers, sometimes find themselves out of touch with others in their field. Fill your social and professional cup by joining a teacher’s association, online community of educators, or simply by having semi-regular coffees with colleagues.
Gratitude. It’s all about perspective. You may choose to write down what you’re grateful for, post a list by your bathroom mirror, or simply recall these points when you find yourself spiraling. However you choose to do it, actively naming what you’re thankful for boosts positive thinking almost immediately.
Home sweet home. Make your home a place you love. Leave the renovations aside—simple fixes and habits can make it cozy and inviting. Rearrange the furniture, get a houseplant, change your sheets, put in softer lighting, get new cushion covers, create a tea-drinking corner, print out a few favorite photos to display, bake bread, play your favorite music, and let in fresh air. You’ll feel better, we promise.
Indulge. We’re not saying go and break the bank—just say “yes” to yourself and your needs. Maybe this means going to a movie on a school night or having a few squares of chocolate when you normally wouldn’t. Just a little well-placed treat to boost your mood.
Judge (way) less. Both yourself and others. Don’t join in with school gossip, don’t speak badly about another person’s best efforts, and remember to treat yourself with the same respect! You’re doing the best you can—so don’t pull yourself down or put higher than reasonable expectations on your work.
Kindness. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato said it and it’s been true ever since. What can you do? Listen to a colleague who’s having a hard time. Surprise a friend with tickets to a movie. Babysit your sister’s kids. Clean even though it’s your flatmate’s turn. Leave someone a note telling them how much you appreciate them. Such little things add up and increase everyone’s happiness.
Let it go. Maybe it’s frustration at a lesson that flopped or feelings about a colleague’s comment. Maybe it’s a wound you’ve been carrying for years or just the icky sensation of having slept poorly. Put it in a balloon in your mind, then let it go.
Move. Walk. Ride a bike. Do a gym class. Hike. Swim. Start an interpretive dance-off in your living room. Try slacklining, capoeira, stilt-walking, and rock-climbing. Or just walk around the block. We dare you to say it didn’t help!
Nourish yourself. Buy yourself the best, freshest food you can. Avoid packaged foods. Switch to wholemeal. Choose free-range eggs. Eat less meat and seek out humanely raised options where possible. Make as many things from scratch as you’re able to. Bread, pasta sauces, muesli, cookies—they’re all so much more delicious when homemade.
Organization. Use time well by prepping meals in advance. Plan strategically for each part of the academic year. File your school work in a system that makes sense to you. Recycle any papers that are no longer of use. Leave for work 10 minutes earlier. Prep the coffee machine before going to bed. Write to-do lists of six points maximum.
Pets. Animals give so much comfort. Snuggle up with yours as much as you can—or sneak moments with your friends’ furry critters.
Quiet time. Introverts need time alone more than extroverts do, but it’s good practice for all of us to cultivate moments of peace in our chaotic world. Read, write, stare at the wall, cook for pleasure, cuddle up with your cat, take a nap. It’s all valid!
Reach out to a mentor. Recognize if you need support from an educator with more experience—and ask. You’ll be surprised how willing they’ll be to share their years of knowledge with you.
Stretch. At your desk, before class, at the bus stop, at home, before bed, after waking up. Just whenever and wherever you can!
Take deep breaths. You know the ones: deep belly breaths that really fill you with oxygen.
Unplug. Our phones are such addictive little tricksters, aren’t they? Get the upper hand by establishing a set time to unplug each night and refusing to take your phone to bed. Better yet, take a day off each month (or more often if you can!) where you leave your devices at home, go out and explore.
Visit. See your city with fresh eyes. Find out which days the museums and art galleries are free. Wander the parks. Find a new coffee shop and go up to the local lookout.
Water. Drink it, swim in it, have a shower, go stare at a fountain, go to the beach, a river, or lake. We promise you’ll feel more relaxed.
X-factor. Remember what yours is and don’t ever forget it. You have gifts in life that translate to the classroom. Identify them and cultivate them. If you’re not sure what yours are, ask a friend or colleague whose opinion you trust. In the end, it comes down to learning to know and appreciate yourself.
Youtube (for good). By that we mean using Youtube as a source for inspiration, tips, and hacks to help you get the best out of yourself in life and at school. Not as a place to listen to haters hate. (Cat videos are, *ahem* sometimes a good self-help tool, too.)
Zzzzz. Can’t get to sleep? Try herbal teas, lavender oil, setting and keeping strict bedtime and wake up times, unplugging at least an hour before going to bed. Get new PJs, read in bed (though not on a screen!), dim the lights early and play relaxing music in the evening. Eat simple, light meals at night. Write down what’s worrying you before getting in bed as a way to let it go. And remember what you’re grateful for.