Avoid Burnout and Feel Better With These 7 Teacher Self-Care Tips
You love being a teacher, but let’s be real - it’s hard work.
The list goes on and on. No matter how much you do, there’s always more to be done.
If you aren’t careful, you’ll find yourself feeling burnt out and less than your best for your students.
As a teacher, you know that self-care is important. But there’s no way you have the time or the budget to get weekly pedicures or massages.
So what does teacher self-care look like?
Let’s take a look at some ways you can avoid teacher burnout and start taking care of yourself in and out of the classroom.
1. Set Boundaries With Your Time
Your time is valuable.
As an educator with never-ending to-do lists, getting to school before the sun rises and leaving after it sets is a recipe for burnout.
Instead, set strict time boundaries...and stick to them.
Make a promise to yourself to leave by a certain time each day. If you really need to, you can plan to stay later one day per week, but plan it in advance. This way you’ll make the most of the time you have at school with no students in the classroom.
Set time limits on planning and projects. For example, give yourself 30 minutes to get the bulletin board done and stop when 30 minutes is up.
Even if everything doesn’t get done, that’s okay. Your students will be alright, and better off, if they have a teacher who is rested and excited to be there each day.
2. Feel Your Feelings
We’ve all been there. You push your feelings to the back burner because you’re so busy caring for your students. Not to mention, your schedule is jam-packed from the time you wake up until you hit the pillow at night. You don’t have time to process your own emotions.
Your feelings are a big indicator of how you’re doing overall. One of the best forms of self-care is to pay attention to them.
During the school day, you experience a wide range of emotions. At the end of the day, try to pinpoint one feeling that most closely aligns with how your day was.
If you continually find yourself using words like overwhelming, discouraging, or exhausting, you know it’s time to make some changes and find ways to replenish your energy.
3. Lunch Break - It’s in the Name
A duty-free lunch break with no students in the room is a luxury. If the stars align and you end up with time to sit down and eat… take it!
Put your work aside, and take a moment for yourself. Besides, will working through your lunch really make that much of a difference for your students?
Use this time to give your brain and body some nourishment. Drink some water, because we all know that can be a challenge when you’re teaching all day.
Engage in conversation with your coworkers that is NOT school related. Take a break during the day… you deserve it.
4. Avoid Teacher Burnout and Take Back Your Weekends
Not working on the weekends can feel scary at first, especially when you’re accustomed to it.
But how will I be ready for Monday morning?
Here’s how: Plan for next Monday during the week. Make it a goal to be ready for next Monday before Friday afternoon.
Your contract does not include extra pay for working on the weekends, so don’t do it.
You’re more than a teacher. Use Saturday and Sunday to rest, spend time with your family, and do the things you love, NOT to plan for school.
5. Re-evaluate Your To-Do List
It’s true that you have a lot on your plate. Expectations from admin, your teaching team, and the expectations you place on yourself can feel overwhelming at times.
With veteran teachers on social media posting reels of classrooms that make you wish you were in their classes, it’s easy to hold yourself to impossible standards.
That’s why it’s time to re-evaluate your to-do list.
- Why are you doing things?
- Will this yield a return on investment?
- Is this necessary?
- Is this something the students can be doing?
Not every activity has to be color coded, laminated, perfectly labeled, and immaculately organized. It’s okay if your students do a reading activity without a classroom transformation.
If it’s not directly impacting student learning, let it go.
6. Plan Things That Bring You Joy
Plan things that you enjoy - both inside and outside of the classroom.
Students can tell when you’re being an authentic teacher. If you plan things that you enjoy doing, your students will feed off your energy and enjoy doing them, too. And you will enjoy teaching more!
On the weekends (since you’re no longer lesson planning on Saturday and Sunday), plan some things that bring you joy. Check out your local parks, plan a game night with friends, or plan a weekend getaway to a nearby lake or bed and breakfast.
You’ll be the best teacher version of yourself if you’re doing things that you enjoy during the school day and outside of work.
Start implementing the self-care strategies listed above, and watch as your work/life balance improves and you begin to feel the joy that brought you to teaching in the first place.
7. Plan a Get-Away
Getting away from your normal setting can be a game changer.
You have the chance to leave some of your regular responsibilities behind and recharge. Even a quick trip to a nearby location for the weekend can be just what you need to come back energized and refreshed.
If you’re looking for a self-care get away, the Pink Santa Hat Movement is sponsoring an educator self-care beach trip.
Purchase a raffle ticket, and you and four of your educator friends could be spending 4 days and 3 nights on the sandy beaches of Rosemary, FL.