Take Care! Back-to-School Teacher Wellness
The start of a new school year brings a range of emotions. You’re excited, but maybe a little anxious, you’re energized, but careful to pace yourself, and you’re eager to start, even if you wouldn’t turn down another day of rest. In the middle of a pandemic and great uncertainty, these back-to-school emotions are running higher than ever, especially since the start of our year may look incredibly different from years past. Incorporating wellness and balance strategies not only will reap immeasurable benefits for yourself, but also can impact those around you. Check out some of the tips below to take care of yourself, both in and out of school, so that you can present your best self.
- Put on your oxygen mask first. You probably heard this the last time you were on a plane preparing for take-off (remember those days?). It’s not a selfish act. We must take care of ourselves before we are able to fully help others. However you envision your oxygen mask (maybe it’s regular exercise, quiet time to read, or taking in nature), carve out time in your life to do those activities that help you breathe a little easier when life becomes hectic.
- Wellness, mindfulness, and balance are individualized. Just because one mindfulness technique worked for one colleague doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily be a good fit for you or your students. Mindfulness takes practice, especially if you are introducing it to your students. Wellness generally means “the state of being in good health,” but it can encompass many different aspects, ranging from physical to emotional to environmental. When it comes to balancing your life, think of it as a river–it is ever-flowing and always changing. What you need to balance work, family, and other interests now may look different than what you needed in March!
- Adjust your mindset. It seems easier said than done, right? The truth is that we have a choice in how we manage our time. Sure, our days may be scheduled, but we prioritize what we want to do with that time. Instead of thinking, “I have to…” change your mindset to, “I get to…” Suddenly, tackling yesterday’s grading seems more manageable. “I have to grade 30 papers,” is now “I get to learn about 30 students’ perspective on what we discussed.” Changing your approach to those must-do tasks can make them more enjoyable and less of a stressor
- Listen to your body. Don’t ignore physical manifestations of stress–they can be a clue that it is time to slow down. It is important to keep the scheduled visits to the doctor and dentist and be aware of current safety precautions. Finally, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Your body will thank you!
- Stop “doomscrolling.” With so much going on in our world, it takes energy to stay informed and to filter out the noise! By spending more time at home, we’re also spending more time on our devices. Sometimes, in our attempts to know the latest headlines, we keep scrolling through seemingly-endless gloomy news, called doomscrolling. This NPR article has some great tips to avoid such behavior, including setting a timer for your own scrolling brain breaks, recognizing why you visited a site in the first place, and doing activities that bring joy in your life.
Remember that your students are looking to you more than ever right now. Incorporating wellness and mindfulness strategies in the classroom (even if it is over Zoom) and in your own life will strengthen your mind and body so you can better accept what the world sends your way.