Now more than ever, educators need to prioritize their own well-being.
We all know what they say—you can’t care for others if you’re not well yourself. Easier said than done, especially for teachers across the country who go above and beyond to support their students and communities emotionally, socially, and intellectually even in the best of times. And in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic and unpredictable demands on their time, it’s harder than ever for teachers to put themselves first.
Self-care, though, isn’t selfish. Of course, you need to be strong to support your students. But you also deserve to be well. Period. We can’t predict when the pressure on your profession will ease (though we’d love to magic-wand it away), but we have gathered some self-care tips and resources to support the essential work you do.
Most of us know the benefits of deep breathing, and we’re here to tell you again: deep breathing can help you reduce stress, calm your nervous system, and improve mental and physical well being. It’s free, it’s quick, and you can do it anywhere, even during a chaotic day in the classroom.
The Monday Campaign has simple gifs you can pull up for guided breathing and resources for teachers interested in implementing a “Destress Monday” practice at school. And phone apps like Calm and Headspace (which is available free to educators) are great not only to guide you through deep breathing exercise, but can be used with your students. Stop and breathe together. Your students likely need it as much as you do.
This is another chance to take advantage of educator promotions. No, we don’t recommend blowing your budget on cozy sweaters, but we wholeheartedly recommend spending wisely on something that makes you happy. This might mean a date night, a Korean skincare routine, a book, or, yes, even a cardigan. Check out this list of companies that offer discounts to teachers and #treatyoself.
Self-care doesn’t have to mean fancy face masks or a zen retreat. It’s also not about impulsively binging Netflix or ice-cream, which can leave you feeling worse than when you started (though we’re all for these things, sometimes).
You can also make time for the things that help you feel cared-for. If a sink full of dishes stresses you out, set the grading aside and wash them. If a rushed shower is a flustering start to your day, give yourself the extra five minutes.
Forget the idea that self-care is about indulging in luxury; it’s often boring. We love these tips that recommend steps as easy as paying your bills on time and taking your medications.
Of course, with all these tips, you might be wondering: When do I have time for all (or any) of this?? The answer, for better or for worse, is that you have to make it. It’s okay to be unavailable to your students (and families, friends, and communities) sometimes. It’s okay to say no.
One of the reasons we created Remind was so teachers could maintain professional boundaries and keep their personal contact information private. Teachers often refer to their students as their “kids,” and we understand the urge to be there for them. One way to do that is to use our office hours feature to let others know when they can message you and receive a response. This way, your kids know when to reach you, but they also know not to expect a message back outside of that time. Then, turn off your notifications and hold yourself to it.
Hopefully, this also teaches your students not to wait until 2 in the morning to start homework because you won’t be available to answer questions. And it sets them up for personal success by modeling what good professional boundaries look like.
In addition to blocking out time for grading, for lesson planning, and for meeting with students and families with Remind or in-person office hours, block out “me time,” too—literally pencil it in your planner or put it in your Google calendar—where nothing else takes precedence.
We know times are rough. We hope you take the time to do what you need to avoid burnout, and let us know what Remind can do for you.