Us teachers tend to have a habit of putting the needs of everyone else before our own. When we’re busy caring for others, it’s easy to run out of time and push self-care to tomorrow…and then the next day and before long it’s been weeks since you’ve clipped your toenails and now they’re getting out of control.
Learning how to make self-care a realistic part of your daily routine can help you to ensure that you’re caring for your own needs so you can avoid teacher burnout. In this post, we’re sharing 10 ideas for self-care activities and teaching you how to make self-care a habit so that you can be your best self both in and out of the classroom.
Self-care is the practice of taking care of your own health and wellbeing. It’s important to practice self-care because taking care of your own needs makes you more energetic and more effective. It also helps you to reduce stress and overwhelm, two emotions that teachers experience a lot, and feel more calm and balanced.
Although it’s tempting to always put the needs of our students first, setting time aside to rest, reset and replenish allows us to be much better teachers because then we have plenty of energy for our students when we’re with them.
The first step to making self-care a habit is to choose activities that you love that help you to reset. The goal of self-care is up to you. Do you want your self-care time to be about relaxation? About getting exercise in a way that you enjoy? Is it about solitude or about connection? No matter what your reason for taking some you-time choose an activity that is all about you and what you need at this moment.
The next step is to make your self-care time a habit so that it doesn’t fall to the bottom of your list and get forgotten. We explained how habits are created in the brain and exactly how to use the habit loop to your advantage when creating new habits in this post. Keeping the four laws of behaviour change that James Clear outlines in his book Atomic Habits in mind when creating your habit will really help to make it stick.
Make sure your new self-care habit is at the forefront of your mind so you don’t forget about it and fall into old routines. Ex: Leave your running shoes in the hallway so you have to walk over them which will remind you to go for a run. Have a dedicated meditation spot in your house so when you walk by it you’re reminded to meditate. Keep your ukulele out in the open so you see it and are reminded to practice.
Make sure it’s an activity that you actually enjoy doing or find a way to make the activity more fun.
Ex: Pick out a cute outfit for running that you’re excited to wear. Use essential oils that you love and a comfortable seat for your meditation practice. Choose to learn songs on your ukulele that you love and are excited to master.
If your self-care activity is hard to do, your brain will try to convince you not to do it to conserve energy. Make it really small, easy and manageable so that your brain doesn’t fight against you. Don’t do more that what your brain feels comfortable with.
Ex: Running? Start by JUST putting on your shoes. Meditation? Sit in your spot for 1 minute. Learning an instrument? 5 minutes of practice only.
When you feel satisfied after your self-care practice, your brain will see that it was worth the effort and want to make it a habit.
Ex: Listen to an awesome playlist that makes you feel good during your run. Pay attention on purpose to the calm feeling you feel when you’re finished meditating. Pay attention to the progress you’re making after each practice session.
We’ve put together a list of our favourite self-care activities that can easily follow the four laws of behaviour change. Is there anything on this list that sounds like fun to you?
When life gets busy, it’s so easy to put everyone else first, let your own wellbeing slip and put self-care at the bottom of your to-do list. We challenge you to write out your plan for making self-care a habit this year so that you stick to it which will help you to avoid teacher burnout and be your best self in and out of the classroom.
Worry, stress and anxiety are a reality in today’s schools. When students are distracted, their brains aren’t ready for learning. Giving our students 5 minutes a day to care for themselves with a mindfulness practice teaches them to create habits for self-care that will support them throughout the ups and downs of their lives.
We’ve made it easy for you to practice mindfulness with your students with Educalme.
With Educalme, students and teachers learn concrete skills for emotional wellness and mental health. You’ll both leave the classroom better equipped to overcome life’s challenges.
Don’t waste another minute searching the internet to piece together videos and lessons that won’t systematically teach your students social-emotional skills. Get Educalme, the step by step, full year, online mindfulness program that is transforming classrooms and improving student wellness and learning.
We hope that this post will help you to create self-care habits this school year that will help you to avoid teacher burnout and be your best self both in and out of the classroom.
To go even deeper on this topic, listen to our episode on The Balanced Educator Podcast below.
Share this post on Pinterest so other educators can learn concrete strategies to form healthy habits this school year.
Let us know in the comments, what activity will you do as part of your self-care routine?
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