As teachers we often work long hours and give all our energy to our students. We do this because we care. But who will care for us when we’re worn down, burned out, and having nothing left to give?
So often, we teachers have to care for our selves and our spirits, when we’re body-tired and soul-weary. Others may care for us in small ways throughout the year, but only we can be responsible for self-care, day in and day out.
Self-care is a subtle art. But while it takes a lot to be a teacher, it only takes a little effort to maintain your stamina and energy so you can consistently care for your students.
There are a couple simple shifts that can transform you from a stressed teacher to a joyful teacher. Try the suggestions below and you’ll find yourself feeling more refreshed and ready every day.
- Cultivate gratitude. A gratitude journal is an absolute necessity. Taking even just five minutes each morning to consider what blessings you enjoy will heighten your awareness of the simple abundance around you. All the sweet smiles, giggling laughter, and rainbow drawings that decorate your days as a teacher will mean even more to you when you pause to appreciate them.
- Capture joy. We easily forget the sources of our happiness. And even if we know exactly what brings us joy, we often forget to do those things regularly. So I challenge you to list 100 actions or activities that make you happy and bring joy to your hours and days. Here’s a worksheet to help you get started. Don’t worry—100 seems like a lot, but after the first 20 you’ll be on a roll.
The list you end with might have ideas like “listen to music in the car on the way to work” or “stream tunes as students arrive in the morning.” I’ve begun using fragrance plug-in diffusers in my classroom after making my list. Maybe you will incorporate your love of sports into your lessons?
Some other ideas I had that weren’t about the classroom were to take Saturday morning to spend in a vintage store, or spend time (even a few minutes makes a big difference) intentionally connecting with my son before school.
Bring your joy back into your life. On purpose. There’s always time.