7 min

Self-care for teachers: How not to lose yourself

Nataly Bogorad
April 7, 2022
Teaching is a vocation – not everyone is a good fit for it. Teachers sow the seeds of knowledge in young minds, sometimes negatively impacting their mental health and social life in the process. However, it's important to remember that everyone needs care, and first and foremost that should be yourself. That's where self-care for teachers comes in.

The importance of self-care for educators

Self-care is the practice of making time to do activities you enjoy or that are relaxing, especially to manage or avoid stress. This means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can do your job, and you can care for others.

Self-care is especially important for teachers for two reasons. First, it has been statistically proven that teaching is one of the most stressful jobs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 1 in 5 teachers feels tense about their job some or all of the time, compared with 1 in 8 workers in other white-collar occupations.

Secondly, teachers need to take greater care of their own mental health because they work with children and young people. They need to maintain control of their emotions in all possible ways.

Top 10 self-care tips for teachers

There are many simple things that can help you stay sane and productive. We have compiled a list of the top self-care tips for teachers that are most relevant for the profession. We hope the list will be useful for anyone seeking more information about self-care for educators.

1. Create a playlist of your favorite music

It's amazing how music can affect our mood and feelings. Music reduces stress and gives us the strength and motivation to go on.

Create a playlist on your phone or PC to keep your favorites at hand. Pop in your earbuds and enjoy the playlist during your free time, on the way home, or while grading papers. Whether an inspirational classical piece or an upbeat pop song, the right music can cheer you up on a tough day.

2. Listen to interesting and inspiring podcasts

Break up your routine and add motivation to your day by listening to different podcasts. Lose yourself in thrilling adventures in a detective podcast or learn from the success stories of your peers in an educational podcast. These types of communication can help keep your brain fit so you feel more energetic and productive.

3. Carve out some "me time"

No matter how many tasks you have to do, there should always be time to make your own well-being a priority. Look through your schedule and find a space for yourself. Even a 20-minute break can keep you from feeling like killing someone.

4. Build your own self-care kit

Keep your favorite things close at hand for scheduled free time or for emergency cases when everything goes awry. Your self-care pack might include:

  • A favorite book
  • A stress-relieving toy
  • A sketchbook
  • Your favorite snacks and drink
Keep these things handy in a bag so you can access them easily at any time.

5. Stay in touch with family and friends

Spending time with people who love and care for you is a great way to de-stress. Call your mom or dad. Catch up with an old school friend over a cup of coffee. Go to the movies with your partner.

It is important that you communicate with people who know you outside of work. Get thoughts about work out of your head and just have fun with loved ones.

6. Build connections with colleagues

No one will understand your pain better than another teacher. It's super- important to surround yourself with like-minded people with whom you can share your teaching struggles.

Consider and discuss different ways to overcome classroom challenges together. Share a meal and stories about how you've dealt with problem students.

7. Get some exercise

A sound mind in a sound body. Keeping fit is a great way to take care of both your physical and mental health. Exercise reduces stress hormones and increases the release of endorphins which stimulate relaxation and improve your mood.

Buy an exercise pass and go to the gym a couple times a week. Try a Bachata class to combine the useful with the fun. If you're not much into group workouts, try to get outside for a walk. Fresh air and movement will clear your mind and banish stress.

8. Get enough sleep

Sleep is a great stress-reliever. A good night's sleep boosts concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens decision-making. A lack of sleep raises the level of the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you less able to cope with stressful situations.

If you know you don't get enough sleep, don't ignore the problem. Revise your schedule to meet your basic needs. Save time for sleep by using meal or grocery delivery services and reduce your consumption of social media.

9. Try meditation

Meditation has been practiced for over a thousand years. It was originally meant to help deepen understanding of the mystical and sacred forces of life. Today, meditation is commonly used for relaxing and de-stressing.

In meditation, you focus on what you are experiencing in the moment, such as the flow of your breath, and eliminate the stream of chaotic thoughts in your mind that may be causing stress. This activity enhances both physical and emotional well-being.

There are many articles on the internet about how to meditate – just Google it and find one that speaks to you.

10. Celebrate your teaching wins

Did you present four productive lessons in a row? Did a struggling student get an A- on their essay? Did you keep your cool during an extremely frustrating parent-teacher conference? Yay! It's time to celebrate.

Working as a teacher can be draining, and teachers can often simply forget to find some time for themselves. Self-care isn't just an Instagram trend; it is an essential for everyone. With exam season in full swing and a huge pile of papers to grade, take some time for yourself and remember that self-care brings you one step closer to a healthier and happier you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I take care of myself as a teacher?

  • First of all, carve out some time for yourself
  • Spend your free time wisely, meeting with friends or doing something you really enjoy
  • Create a playlist of your favorite music to lift your mood in down times
  • Develop healthy habits like a consistent sleep schedule and regular exercise
  • Finally, try out new ways of relaxation such as meditation
For more details see the self-care ideas for teachers above.

Why is self-care so important for teachers?

Teaching takes a lot out of you, both physically and mentally. You can't lose your temper in the classroom because you had a bad day. Your mood and actions must always be in control, all while helping kids and young adults regulate their own. That's why it is important to "secure your own mask first before assisting others".

Why do teachers neglect the importance of self-care?

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, teachers think being busy is normal: "Everyone lives like that, so do I". Secondly, they don't realize how bad their situation really is. And finally, most teachers can't say no to people and things because they have a highly developed sense of responsibility.