By Natychia Redmond, Chervontá “Taye” Pugh, and Christel Young
Being an educator is a calling, and with that calling come many demands that seem never-ending. Lesson plans, websites or blogs, lunch and carpool duty, after-school clubs, faculty meetings, department meetings, parent conferences, and emails—the list goes on and on! Not to mention you still have to take care of your own needs: What’s for dinner? When will I have time to complete this home project?
At some point, it feels like there’s too much going on! You’re stressed out and you know you’re not operating at full capacity (Schussler et al., 2016). So what are you supposed to do?
Educators are pros at pushing through! But the time to take care of yourself is not when you’re broken down and stressed out. You have to make self-care a deliberate part of your daily routine. Work it into your schedule from the very beginning of the year. When we think about taking care of ourselves, we battle with feeling selfish. True self-care is a selfless commitment you make to yourself—an investment in the health of your future and the futures of those you care about (Jeffries, 2017)! Take care of yourself at all costs or it may cost you your all.
Sometimes the hardest part about actually engaging in self-care is that it seems purposeless or overindulgent. You can’t get it out of your mind that you could be doing something more…productive. Remind yourself that rest is indeed the purpose. To help combat the feeling that you’re wasting time, try adding your self-care as an appointment on your calendar.
If you’re not accustomed to staying hydrated and getting quality sleep, start there! You can also try different activities to find what you enjoy. Then commit to incorporating those activities faithfully. Some suggestions include:
- Entertainment: Music (Spotify and Pandora are cost-effective platforms), reading, movies (Netflix or a movie club), karaoke, learning to play an instrument, going on an outing (zoo, museum, garden or orchard)
- Exercise: Running, walking, lifting weights, dancing, yoga, boxing, swimming
- Arts: Painting, drawing, coloring books, crocheting, baking
- Therapeutic Arts: Meditation, journaling, nature walks, therapy/counseling (your health insurance might cover personal counseling sessions), religious studies or services
- Personal Care: Massages, pedicures, facials, relaxing baths
- Unplug from Social Media and News: Preserve your space of peace and positivity!
When starting your path to regular self-care, you may have to ease into it, and that’s okay! Be sure to partner with trusted teachers and form an accountability circle. Working with a partner or a group, you can all help one another on your journeys!
Ms. Christel Young is a doctoral candidate at the American College of Education. Her dissertation research topic focuses on the influence of housing insecurity on digital participation in higher education. She is currently serving as the Technology teacher at Tapp Middle School in Cobb County.
Mrs. Natychia Redmond is a high school math teacher at Lake Norman Charter High School in North Carolina. Her passion is to teach students the skills and knowledge they will need to be empowered to academically and socially transition into their next phase of life.
Ms. Chervontá “Taye” Pugh is a middle school math teacher for Cobb County Schools. She has a passion for integrating technology in the classroom for teacher efficiency and increased student engagement. She is proud to be a part of the Tiger Nation at Tapp Middle School.
Jeffries, D. (2017). Self-care: An ethical imperative for EAL teachers. TEAL News, 12.
Schussler, D. L., Jennings, P. A., Sharp, J. E., & Frank, J. L. (2016). Improving teacher awareness and well-being through CARE: A qualitative analysis of the underlying mechanisms. Mindfulness, 7(1), 130-142. DOI: 10.1007/s12671-015-0422-7