Teacher self-care matters
Theodora Papapagionotou (Greece) shares nine great ideas for teacher self-care
Being a teacher is a demanding job. Preparing for your lesson, creating lesson plans, teaching your class, facing discipline problems, talking with parents… It takes all of your day.
Being a teacher during a pandemic is even more stressful; your classes are online now, your schedule has changed, you have to learn to use technology efficiently to cater for your students’ needs. You face problems controlling your students, you spend endless hours in front of a screen, sitting all the time, not able to move much and you find yourself working even more than you used to before.
This is the teacher of today.
And while you are doing the best you can to deal with a difficult situation like this, there are people who don’t appreciate your work and the fact that you have dedicated your life to making your students learn.
This is frustrating, and leaves you with a lot of problems; physical, emotional, psychological, you reach burnout even faster than before.
And that’s when you have to put yourself first and do something for your well-being. This is the definition of self-care.
I don’t really know what’s happening in other countries, but in my country, Greece, there is no policy at schools for teachers’ self-care. No matter if you work at a public or a private school or if you are freelance. You are on your own.
And that’s why you have to take things in your own hands and start doing something for yourself.
So, I have some tips for my own experience and I hope they can help you, too!
Watch your weight!
What happened to me in the first lockdown was to gain a lot of weight. I was sitting all day in front of a screen and my only pleasure was food. Until one day, I could not climb the stairs without losing my breath. My clothes couldn’t fit me and I felt really bad for myself. As a result, I could not function very well. I lost my will to create material for my students and I became the boring teacher, who I hate! When I realized that, I took the big decision to watch my diet, adopting healthy eating habits and this gave me my teaching motivation back.
Even for 10 minutes. Take the dog out for a walk and enjoy nature in the park. If you don’t have a dog or a park in your area, just go out for a walk and fresh air. Waking and observing what’s happening around you, can clear your head and you can get back to work with more energy.
If you don’t like walking, you can have a workout at home. There are plenty of free videos online and you can choose what you like — yoga, dancing, even high intensity exercise! While you are exercising, powerful hormones are released and this make you feel happy, and accomplished.
Create a morning routine!
Eat breakfast. Make your bed, wear clothes, do your make-up and don’t spend the day in your pajamas. Maybe you will not go out, but it will probably change your frame of mind.
Make positive affirmations.
This is a step in believing in yourself. Some examples are: “Everything will go all right”, “I believe in myself”, “I am strong”, “I will make it today”. It works!
Start a journal!
What are your goals for today? Write them all down, even if they are as simple as “make the bed” or “clean the room”. Of course you can also keep a teaching journal with your lesson plans and ideas and notes about what has succeeded and what needs more work in your lessons. You will definitely see an improvement as days go by.
Set your boundaries.
Just because you work from home, this doesn’t mean that you are accessible all the time. Set your working time and devote time to yourself and for your relaxation. Students and co-workers can wait. Your well-being is more important.
Spend some time with friends and like-minded people.
Communicate. There are people who are struggling just like you and others who can help you overcome your problems because they have gone through the same situations and succeeded. Don’t isolate yourself.
Adopt a pet!
If you can, this will be a great opportunity to save a stray. You save a life and you get love in return. Caring for somebody will give you motivation to go on. And the selfless love you get is something incredible.
I am not an expert, just experimenting myself and seeing what’s working for me and what’s not. I hope I have helped some of you!