Teacher Self Care is Not Selfish
Teacher self care is a necessity. As you all know, the job of a teacher is extremely demanding and can take a heavy toll on our physical and mental well-being. In fact, the United States is a world leader in stress and most Americans blame their job for their stress. Teacher burnout and work-life balance are some of the main reasons cited why teachers quit. When work gives you so much grief, it’s not like you can leave it in the classroom. We take our stress home with us and let it live rent free in our minds and bodies, significantly impacting our health. Taking the time to take care of yourself is NOT (and I can’t stress this enough)…selfish. Having the knowledge and tools to handle our stress is vital.
What is Teacher Self Care?
As teachers, we naturally put the needs of others first, especially our students. Being a care-giver is just part of the job. But, too often we forget to care for ourselves as well. Self-care is a trending topic lately and for good reason. It is essentially the practice of taking the time you need to get yourself mentally balanced. According to the American Psychological Association, “good self-care is sound prevention, guarding you against severe or chronic distress or even professional impairment.” By engaging in some restorative activities, such as massages, meditation, exercise and yoga, you’ll keep your batteries charged to combat stress when it attacks.
Why it’s Important?
Stress is a natural part of life and our bodies are designed to handle stressful situations in small dose. When stress becomes chronic, then our bodies are put into overdrive and we can suffer from headaches, stomach issues, sore muscles and sleeplessness. What’s more, when left untreated, stress can also make us more susceptible to deadly and life altering ailments, including heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and suicide. Substance abuse, poor eating habits and less healthy decisions can also form when we feel overwhelmed. In order to maintain the proper care, it is important to know what to do and when to do it. It easy to continue with the status quo, but it takes real work for you to work on you. Self-care is important to your happiness, but more importantly to your health.
Types of Self-Care
According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are five different areas of self-care that need your attention: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and professional. It’s important to check in with these five areas to make sure you are getting the proper care that you need.
- Physical: Get enough sleep (7 to 9 hours), exercise regularly (150 minutes per week), disconnect from technology when overwhelmed, eat healthy on a regular basis and take time heal if you are under the weather. Bonus tip: You don’t have to have the cold or a flu to take a personal day, a mental health day is a perfectly acceptable excuse for taking time off.
- Psychological: Journaling is a great way to self-reflect and vent about your stress. Also, try a gratitude journal as well. At the end of each day, write down three things you are grateful for. Soon you’ll notice an improvement in your mood. Take time to read for pleasure instead of for work. Try some mindfulness techniques, such as yoga, meditation or just some quiet time to be in the present moment. Practice self-awareness when you get into thoughts of negativity and judgment.
- Emotional. Make sure you have a good support network to rely in times of need. One of the greatest impacts to improving our happiness are the positive relationships in our lives. In fact, if you surround yourself with just one happy person, then you can boost your own happiness by 15 percent. Try a random act of kindness. Kind people are more likely to be happy and successful and more likely to help others succeed. Practice self-compassion, such as treating yourself kindly the way you would treat another person. Allow yourself to feel your emotions at the present moment. Laugh when you need to laugh, cry when you need to cry.
- Spiritual: Participate in some form of spirituality, whether it is with your higher power, spending time in nature, or finding time for reflection. Be sure to recognize the meaningful moments in your life. You can also read to literature of self-improvement or listen to an uplifting podcast. Adding more positivity to your life is always a good idea.
- Professional/Workplace: Balancing work and leisure time. Keeping realistic expectations about work and learn when to say ‘no’ when you don’t feel up for the task. Setting the proper boundaries between work life and home life will keep those demands in check. Seek out a support group or a community with like-minded people who are in your exact situation. Talk about what’s wrong, but also it is important to talk about what is going right, too. Take your necessary breaks from work and make sure your workstation brings you comfort.
When Teacher Self Care Isn’t Enough
If you have made it this far through this blog, then it is quite clear that self-care is a serious issue, and it is important to recognize that more of it is needed in your life. As I said before, self-care isn’t selfish. In fact, it is the opposite. You can not help your students unless you know how to help yourself. Always seek professional help if you feel like you are at the breaking point, but hopefully these tips and warning signs will help you identify and rectify your self-care issues.
But self care can only help so much.
If you are still finding yourself miserable after taking all of these steps, it may be time for you to look into a career change for teachers. There are many other positions that may be a better fit for you and your needs. Do not hesitate to start exploring other career options if you find yourself physically or mentally unhealthy due to the pressures of the position.
If you’re ready to jump and get all of my resources immediately, join The Teacher Career Coach Course today. Check out the Teacher Career Coach reviews to hear what other teachers are saying about this course.