Not many teachers put themselves first when it comes to self care and this fact may be one of the major reasons for teacher burnout running rampant throughout the country. Now, you may argue that burnout is caused by the rising amount of work, the incessant lack of support, the growing demands, the rising expectations and the lack of funding. It would seem that all of those things also have an impact on many teachers not even entering the profession and almost half leaving the profession within the first five years of starting. And veteran teachers may argue that those who never enter the profession and those who leave within the first five years may be doing an excellent job at self-care, but what about the rest of us? What about those who take on more and more with less and less? Are we doing ourselves or anyone else any good by dragging our tired bodies to meeting after meeting and event after event?
It’s clear that the entire education system is in desperate need of an overhaul but are we doing the system or ourselves any favors by trying to keep it running at any cost? Hopefully your answer is “no” because the cost to continue working, working, working without adequately caring for our own needs is not going to help our system, our schools, our students, our communities, our families or ourselves in the long run.
So you are getting permission right now to start off this next school year with self-care as a priority. Because if you don’t become your own advocate for your health and well-being, it’s quite possible you won’t have one. If putting yourself first once in awhile is difficult to do, just remember one of the many anecdotes that we have heard since we were young: people can’t get water from an empty well or you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.
So here’s a self care list that was floating around on various sites that seems like a good place to start if you are having difficulty with knowing how to begin caring for yourself…
12 Steps for Self Care
So keep this little list by your desk and refer to it when you are presented with choices about how to spend your time after school (#7 and #8 don’t be afraid to say no OR yes) or what new initiatives the district is implementing (#10 let go of what you can’t control). Self-care isn’t just about getting a massage and pedicure every week (although this could fall into #9 be kind to yourself!). Instead it’s about your work life and home life fitting with your wants and needs. And it’s up to each of us to be clear about what those wants and needs are because everybody else is also working to get there wants and needs met. So if we are always compromising ourselves to please others, we aren’t caring for ourselves (#3 don’t be a people pleaser).
So hopefully you have some places to start with your own self care. Pass this list onto coworkers or anyone else who needs permission to start putting some energy into their own self care. Please comment below about any other ways you create these moments into your schedule!
And if you haven’t already done so, consider signing up for Teaching Well’s free gift, Twenty Minutes to Wellness. You will receive guidance on how to create small purposeful mindful moments which are great ways to sprinkle self care throughout your day. Looking forward to connecting with you soon!