Teachers around the United States are burning out at an incredibly fast rate. It has become absolutely undeniable that there need to be major changes to our education system.
As the teacher shortage grows, educators around the United States are being told to “prioritize themselves” and “practice self-care” as some administrators try to excuse the incredible workload and lack of compensation teachers receive.
As more and more teachers have received this gaslighting, “self-care” has become a controversial buzz word in the education space. However, the reality is that “self-care” is not (and should have never become!) the enemy. This gaslighting that has occurred is inexcusable, but we still need to practice self-care—now more than ever!
Teaching is such a demanding career. We absolutely MUST figure out how to recharge and listen to our bodies to stay in this profession! We need to have enough energy to give to our partners, kids, friends, families, AND students. Self-care is one of the most important things we can do for our mental, physical, and emotional health.
I am certainly not perfect, but I am making an intentional effort to have better self-care—not only for my own sanity, but also for the people I love too. That being said, I compiled a list of self-care techniques that I have found to be the most helpful for me and mental health.
1. Meal Prepping & a Mini Fridge
It might sound dramatic, but having a mini fridge and microwave in my classroom has made a HUGE difference for my self-care during the school day. When I pair that with meal prepping in advance, I make way healthier choices during the school day! I am also able to maximize my short lunch time, which is such a great way to care for myself during the school day.
When I meal prep, I am way less likely to skip lunch and snack on Goldfish or other junk in the classroom or staff lounge! By having healthy snacks and sparkling water in my mini fridge, I am way more likely to make healthy choices throughout the school day when I am stressed. I also love the fact that I get to use a clean microwave and fridge (unlike the ones in the staff lounge 😬)
This is my absolute favorite lunchbox! It is the perfect size, durable, & keeps food a consistent temperature. Plus, it's cute and comes in different colors and patterns!
2. Use Calming Aromas
Everyone has their own preferences on fragrances. Some people like all natural scents and other people like to be scent-free. For me, I love using fresh, natural essential oils at home and in my classroom. They are a great help to me and help me regain my inner calm. I love getting some all-natural stress-relief during the school day. These are my favorite essential oils and diffuser if you are looking for some for yourself!
3. Find Relaxing Physical Input that Works for You!
The physical manifestation of stress is REAL. Prioritizing physical activity is important, BUT prioritizing calming physical input is important too! I have found that working out alone is not enough stress relief for me. Adding in a massage, time in the hot tub, a pedicure, or another form of calming physical input has been SO helpful for me. I found a super great special with an amazing massage therapist, so I get one or two massages a month for a great price! I also make sure to schedule them for Sundays to prevent the “Sunday Scaries,” or late at night so I am calm right before bed. It has made such a difference for my physical, mental, & emotional health!
4. Drink Water
As teachers, we struggle to get in enough water throughout the day because our workdays are jam-packed every single second.
To combat this, I drink 32 ounces of water (with a little fresh lemon juice!) every morning on my drive into work. That way, I can start my day with plenty of water and hydration. I used to start my day dehydrated and then I would drink coffee on top of that in the morning.
Now, I drink my 32 ounces of water and then switch over to my coffee. Obviously, I didn’t give up coffee… that would be outrageous! ;)
This might be an unpopular opinion, but Simply Modern is my favorite brand for tumblers (not Stanley… *gasp*). They have such great, cute, functional tumbler options that actually keep your drink a consistent temperature! Click on the pictures to check them out for yourself!
5. Vitamins & Magnesium
Needless to say, we are surrounded by germs every single day in our classrooms! I make sure to take extra vitamins by adding in several Emergen-C packs throughout the week. I also take magnesium before bed because it is a natural supplement that can help us sleep and reduce anxiety. Most of us are low on magnesium, and while it's great to get more magnesium in our diets, a supplement can be a huge help! I love to drink Calm, especially in the raspberry lemon flavor! Click on the picture below to check them out for yourself!
6. Digital Journaling
Journaling is a great form of self-care, but as teachers we are always short on time… which is why I switched over to digital journaling! Recently I realized that I am typically the most stressed out when I am the busiest, which means I have a very limited amount of time to get the essentials done—let alone journal! During my busy days, I use voice-to-text to “write” in my digital journal. That way, I can vent about things that are going on while also getting other simple tasks done, like folding laundry or doing dishes. This makes journaling so much more manageable! Instead of feeling like journaling is another thing on my to-do list, it feels more like actually helpful self-care! 🙌🏼
7. Listen to Body & Give Yourself Grace
One thing I have learned is that giving myself grace is crucial for staying in this career. I try to workout everyday right after work and eat a healthy dinner, but some nights I really need pizza and a nap on my couch… Listening to my body & inner voice as a guide for seeking rest when I need it has helped me stay afloat.
8. Find Support
Hang out with your teacher friends, get a therapist, join a small group, or find people who understand the teaching profession. Getting support and having a healthy space to vent is so important for processing and coping. One of my best friends is a counselor who has worked in many different education spaces. We have dinner together at least once during the week because having that weeknight connection is so healthy for both of us. Another one of my best friends is also an elementary teacher, and we text each other throughout the whole week about the latest updates & drama, so we can encourage each other.
Bottom line: seek out support! You should not have to do this alone. And if you do not have anyone to connect with right now, connect with me on Instagram! Teaching can feel isolating if you don’t connect with people who understand what you are going through… so I want to be at least one person that you can connect with!
These self-care strategies have been so helpful for my physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. When I follow these self-care best practices, I am a happier, healthier version of myself, which allows me to give more to my students, partner, family, & friends. Click here to view my complete list of self-care essentials on Amazon!
Which self-care techniques work best for you? Let me know by sending me a message over on Instagram @always.upper.elementary or tagging me in your posts! I would love to hear which self-care strategies work best for you! :)
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