Teaching is a challenge in even the very best of circumstances. As classroom instruction shifts to remote learning this fall, educators are encountering new stressors. From learning new technologies and constant reminders to students to “go off mute,” this year is a recipe for teacher burnout.
Self-care can seem like an indulgence, but in our current reality, it’s essential for educators. Social distancing and masks are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find ways to care for yourself. In fact, life in a pandemic means adapting, so follow these five tips to help de-stress, relieve anxiety and take care of yourself.
Acknowledge that this is hard
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or to feel that you’ve failed. But these are unprecedented times. There are no guide books for keeping it all together while doing an already hard job in nearly impossible circumstances. So give yourself a break. Focus on what you have done today that you are proud of rather than where you may have fallen short. Talk to your colleagues and remind them of their triumphs instead of commiserating about failures. Not every flower can bloom all year, so be kind to yourself.
Take a few minutes to catch your breath
As you find yourself overcoming a challenge during the school day, whether it’s a technology malfunction or simply trying to stay energized in front of your screen, make time to practice mindful breathing. You can do it anytime, anywhere to reduce stress. You can also teach your students how to use mindful breathing to help them stay focused during the day and manage their emotions when they feel overwhelmed. You can even incorporate a mindful breathing exercise into your class schedule, perhaps to help kids refocus after returning from a break in instruction. Mindful breathing is a practice both you and your students can carry with you beyond this crazy school year!
Write letters, even if you don’t send them
Screens are ubiquitous now, and chances are you are using one for nearly every aspect of your day: teaching, grading and even catching up with friends. Go analog and, rather than texting them, write someone a letter or postcard. There are many health benefits to handwriting our thoughts, and studies show that doing so activates different parts of our brain than does typing.
Get the quality rest you need
When you are well-rested, you are in the best position to tackle the day and all that it holds. To ensure that you’re getting enough sleep and that it’s quality sleep, make sure you have a nighttime routine in place. Reading before bed is proven to benefit your sleep. Meditating before bed can also lead to better sleep (among other health benefits) by helping relax your mind and body.
Make time for a little movement every day
Going outside for a quick walk can boost endorphins and reduce stress while working. Or you can take care of both your body and your mind by practicing yoga. Considered a type of moving meditation, as you move through yoga postures you are better able to focus on your breath and the sensations in your body. If you give yourself the assignment of doing something active each day, you may be surprised to see how easy it is to make a habit of it. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of time to help you feel refreshed. Track it the same way you grade your students: did you do your “homework” today? Gold star!
Check out our virtual classes for more ways to put yourself at the head of the class.