If you feel tired, irritable, apathetic, or forgetful, you may be showing signs of burning out. You are not alone; this year exhausted many teachers and administrators. Be aware that the negative feelings can create a downward spiral making it hard to motivate yourself to do activities that will help you feel better. Educators give a lot of themselves, sometimes to such a degree that they forget to schedule time for themselves. At Harris Education Solution, we support educators doing amazing work to support students. We hope this list of self-care ideas inspires you to do something for yourself today.
This next part is for you if you are saying to yourself, “Sure, I would love some ‘me-time,’ but I don’t have time for it.” Set boundaries and sometimes say “no” to requests and invitations so you can say “yes” to more free time and less stress. A daily routine with positive habits can make a big difference in your mental, physical, and emotional health. You can start small and add a few habits that make you feel better. Below is a list of ideas to get you started. The list is organized by time commitment so that you can work up from your current routine.
Less than a Minute
- Examine your thoughts and reframe any negative self-talk with a more positive perspective. Turn “I failed at something” into “I challenged myself and gave myself a learning opportunity.”
- Give someone a long hug.
- Breathe deeply.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Energize yourself with some quick exercises like running up the stairs or doing a few push-ups.
- Adjust your posture and relax any tense muscles.
- Smile or laugh to trick your brain into feeling happier.
- Give someone a sincere compliment.
- Light a candle or use an essential oil diffuser with a scent that you enjoy. Be aware that not everyone takes pleasure from the same fragrances, and oils can cause reactions for some people. Many schools have rules against using them in the school building.
- Give yourself a hand massage while putting lotion on.
Less than Twenty Minutes
- Connect with your spiritual side.
- Start or write in a gratitude journal.
- Eat a healthy snack.
- Take a power nap.
- Organize a small area that has been bugging you. The space you inhabit affects your mood and improving it will bring a smile to your face.
- Sit outside.
- Buy or cut a bouquet of flowers for your home.
- Replace a burnt-out lightbulb or do some other neglected chore to feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Look at pictures from a happy time.
- Dream about what you will do when you have more time and take one step towards making that happen.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Cuddle with your pet or a loved one.
- Write out and prioritize a to-do list. Look for responsibilities that you can delegate or eliminate. Remember to add and prioritize a self-care item to your list.
An Hour or Two
- Immerse yourself into singing, dancing, coloring, drawing, playing a musical instrument, or whatever creative activity calms you and induces a relaxed mental flow.
- Enjoy a long bath or shower.
- Get a massage.
- Catch up on sleep by taking a nap, going to bed early, or sleeping in late. Getting enough sleep is critical to cognitive function, emotional regulation, and overall health.
- Put away your cell phone and computer, or at least turn off notifications. These interruptions cause unnecessary stress.
- Escape into a good story with a book or movie.
- Moving your body has excellent health and mental benefits. Starting to exercise when you are out of the habit is hard, but the reward is worth it. Choose the workout routine that you enjoy most. It can be as simple as going for a walk. Consider asking a friend to be your workout partner to help keep you motivated.
- Visit with a friend or family member who has a positive outlook and makes you laugh. If your relationships have withered from working too much, this is a great time to meet new people. Perhaps try volunteering, joining a club, or attending a place of worship. A good support network will help you through the toughest of times.
- Get rid of excess clutter. Donate, sell, or throw away items that you have not used recently. Look to Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix for inspiration.
- Plant a garden.
- Go for a hike or bike ride away from the hustle of cars and people. Nature has restorative powers.
- Do a hobby. If you don’t have a hobby, think of an activity you once enjoyed and or one that has sparked your curiosity. You can connect with enthusiasts on social media to help you get started.
- Eat a special meal.
More than a Day
- Take a vacation. Ideally, you can escape to your favorite place in the world. However, you don’t have to go anywhere to take a break. Just decide that for a few days you will postpone all possible responsibilities. Try to do some fun activities to make positive memories.
- Some wounds are more profound and require more work to overcome. You might consider therapy to guide you through the healing process.
Make Self-Care a Habit
We hope you find encouragement in one or more of these suggestions and that you commit to doing one thing just for yourself every day. Taking time to nurture your mental, physical, and emotional health goes a long way toward rejuvenating your energy. You deserve to take time to de-stress for your own well-being. It is not an indulgent luxury; it is a basic human need. It has the bonus of benefiting everyone around you too. When you feel better, you will have more patience, laugh more, and connect better.
At Harris Education Solutions, we care about educators and hope to support them so they can enjoy long careers.