Teachers are often under an enormous amount of pressure—from external mandates, curriculum expectations, and the responsibilities of the profession in the face of inadequate resources and support—which can lead to high stress and burnout.
Self-care is an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a teacher. The following are some self-care strategies to help prevent feelings of burnout and undue pressure.
Maintain healthy habits
– Get enough restful sleep every night.
– Avoid using electronic devices right before bedtime and during the night.
– Set your alarm for a reasonable time and make sure you have something to look forward to every morning: meditation, a long shower, a delicious breakfast, etc.
– Incorporate physical activity and/or exercise into your everyday life; for example, take a brisk 10-minute walk on your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible, or go to the gym for a quick workout in the evenings.
– Avoid indulging in fast food or junk food too often, and make the effort to eat healthier meals on a daily basis.
– Make sure you’re drinking enough water! Keep a water bottle at your desk during the day.
Focus on the positive and break up the routine
– Jot down daily successes to keep yourself focused on the good things happening in your personal and professional life.
– Take the time to accurately identify problems and formulate potential solutions, but don’t dwell on the negatives for too long in one stretch—and celebrate when solutions are fruitful!
– Share positive stories with parents and caregivers, rather than only reaching out with concerns or negative information.
– Be more physically active in the classroom to break up the routine, play games, go outside with students, etc.
– Set aside time for interests and hobbies you have outside of work, like reading, gardening, or participating on a sports team.
Connect with others
– Spend quality time with family and other loved ones.
– Cultivate friendships and mentor/mentee relationships with teacher peers so you have a solid support system in place.
– Take advantage of professional development opportunities in your area and be open to suggestions and new ideas from peers.
– Know when to say no! Set boundaries about what tasks you’re willing to take on, and communicate these clearly with others while remaining considerate and professional. For instance, if you don’t have the time or inclination to provide after-school tutoring, be firm about your position and offer some alternative suggestions and resources.
– Recognize what drives you, what brings you down and lifts you up, etc. Remind yourself why you became a teacher in the first place.
– Identify warning signs of burnout, such as physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, apathy, lack of accomplishment, irritability, and feelings of hopelessness. Take immediate action to mitigate these symptoms and to improve your physical and emotional wellbeing.
– Know when to seek help: from colleagues, administrators, or a mental health professional.