Stress is part of the job as a teacher. And the typical teacher self care ideas may not cut it. There are certain parts of teaching that are just plain down difficult: the paperwork, the new initiatives, the constantly shifting expectations, and increasingly more challenging student behaviors. These stressors come with the territory. And it’s not like you can just turn them off or “let go of what you can’t control”. How do you let go of a student who needs you?
But there is a little nugget of truth in there. It’s not the stressors that overwhelm us; it’s not being able to release the stress after we’ve handled the stressor. In the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, authors (and sisters) Emily and Amelia Nagoski explain that the key to getting through the burnout is completing the stress cycle. That means, finding a way to release all that built up energy.
While some books and gurus promote ideas like yoga, mediation, and healthy eating, the Nagoski sisters promote a different approach: taking action in whatever way you find joy. So we went through our teacher self care archives and found tips from other educators on ways they have taken action for their own well-being. Here’s what we found:
Find what Brings Release
For many, self care is exercise or movement. For others, it’s a good cry with that one movie scene that always brings up the emotions. And for some, it’s talking with a good friend. The what isn’t as important as the act. Find whatever it is that allows you to let go of the tension and then go do that. Here are some ways our teacher tribe does it:
Create Before You Consume
How many times do you start the day checking emails, social media, or watching the news? The only thing this serves is a comparison sandwich before you even get out the door. Instead, try to begin your day with creating in some way. This might be through writing, knitting, drawing, singing…anything you love to do. Here’s some ways to get started:
Acknowledge the Trauma
Sometimes, there’s an underlying trauma that needs to be addressed before the stress can be released. This is as applicable to teachers as it is to students. Being positive all the time doesn’t help in situations like these. Here are some tips our team has used:
As with all things, you can’t be there for your students or your family if you aren’t there for yourself. The best way you can do that is by giving yourself the gift of stress release. Try out one of these teacher self care ideas and see if it gives you the completion you need. Because we can handle the stressors if we can move through the stress.