The Time for Teacher Self-Care is N.O.W.
I’m going to add another acronym to our already filled bucket of education related words standing for initiatives and programs. But this one is different. This one is for us.
Today I’m going to propose the initiative: Teacher Self-Care N.O.W. (Not Only Weekends). What this means to me is the end of the white knuckling to the weekends to get extra sleep, catch up on whatever, and generally regroup after another hectic week of teacher life.
What Teacher Self-Care NOW means is that we no longer allow ourselves (or each other) to wait for the weekends to take care of ourselves. Instead we find times and ways to practice self-care in the midst of our busy days.
Here are some simple self-care hacks if you are still finding it difficult to find time, justify to yourself it’s necessary or don’t know where to start.
Self-care doesn’t have to be a huge production or a large scale event. Keep it simple and it’s sure to be something that becomes a part of a regular routine. Think about where a simple gesture, moment or treat can fit into your schedule and just do it! Some ideas could be to go for a walk by yourself, take a quick nap (even if it’s in your car!) or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. It’s not always the act but more the intention behind it. Being deliberate about these moments, makes these simple gestures even more meaningful.
Self-care is really an individualized act. Each person needs to decide what will make him or her feel cared for and nourished. Try making a self care wish list and keep it somewhere accessible. Take 5-10 minutes to let your imagination go wild. You will probably find that you have large scale self care items like going to a five star resort for some major pampering but you may also have very simple things that you could do today. The important part is that you now have a list and your task is to find ways to incorporate those items into your life in a more regular way.
When you’ve taken the time to treat yourself, try to really let yourself enjoy whatever it is you decided to do. So often, we are worried about the past or stressing about the future that we don’t enjoy the present. Practice allowing yourself to savor these gifts of self-care. Try to quiet the mind that suggests you don’t deserve this time or there are other things you need to be doing. Whatever you left behind will still be there when you get back.
You will remember these moments (and probably want to treat yourself again) if you fully immerse yourself in the experience. Savoring involves using your five senses to truly immerse yourself in experience. Smell the flowers on your walk, hear the birds chirping, see the luscious green of the forest, touch the cold water flowing down the stream, taste the wild raspberries growing on the trail line. Becoming a part of the experience will help the experience stay with you.
Repetition is key to solidifying any habit and shifting it from a chore to a way of life. Self-care is no exception. The more you regularly engage in self-care, the easier it will be to find those moments. Not only will these moments help lower stress and increase your well-being, they will feel less like something added to your day and more a part of it. For more information about creating habits check out this resource.
Hopefully these self-care hacks will help you create a Teacher Self-Care N.O.W. routine that will stay with you through all facets of your life and support your well-being in both the classroom and beyond. If you want some support creating a Teacher Self-Care N.O.W. routine check out Teaching Well’s Free Course “4 Simple Stress Solutions the Reduce Teacher Burnout and Increase Self-Care in Only Five Minutes a Day.” This guide will provide you with support to create a daily self-care routine.