Teaching is probably one of the most stressful jobs on the planet! Especially for those working in high poverty schools where toxic stress seems to run rampant! Because of this we all need to be mindful of self care, it's impossible to pour from an empty cup. You need to take the time to take care of yourself without feeling guilty. I'm not always the best at self care, and the same self care methods don't work for everyone, but I've found a few that work well for me and could easily be modified to work for almost any teacher.
1. Find your passion... NO, not teaching, a passion outside the classroom!
For me it's Zumba, I love doing Zumba, I love teaching Zumba and I love my Zumba family. At Zumba everything vanishes for an hour, my stress melts off and I can relax. Find out what does that for you! I have teacher friends who play soccer or other sports! One even plays ultimate frisbee. Others turn to art such as painting, sculpting or photography. Find something you love and engage in it whenever you can.
2. Exercise... it's not just for losing weight
I started exercising to lose weight, but I've found that it makes me feel good emotionally as well as physically! Endorphins are a powerful feeling. When I finish a strength training session, long hike, or even a quick walk I feel energized and refreshed. If I'm having a bad day a quick walk at lunch or planning can help. I've even been known to take my class for a few quick laps around the blacktop when they drive me nuts, or throw on a brain break because I'm stressing. Find an exercise that works for you and stick with it. Your mind AND your body will thank you for it! Here's an article that explains why https://www.fastcompany.com/3025957/work-smart/wha...
3.Sit down to eat your lunch, and JUST EAT YOUR LUNCH! No planning or work allowed!!!
I know it won't happen every day, that's just not realistic, but try to make it happen at least twice a week. I even turn out my lights and shut the door... yes I hide!! I know you have a lot to do but you deserve a break!
4. Accept the fact that you will never be done with everything...
As a teacher there will always be "just one more thing" you need to get done. Don't even try to get everything done! Just take a deep breath and find a good stopping place, then STOP, and don't feel guilty about it.
Ok this one isn't for everyone, but those adult coloring books are really fun and relaxing. I like the mandala ones best. It's easy to lose yourself in them, and sometimes you need to get lost!
6. Talk it out
Find someone you trust and spill your guts! It may be a friend, coworker, family member,or even a therapist. Just knowing that someone cares enough to listen goes a long way.
7. Get outside
Time in nature is great for your body and mind. All that sunshine (vitamin D) can really help wash that stress away.
8. Find some non teacher friends
I have a huge circle of non teacher friends and it's refreshing to hang out with them because they could care less about IEPs, MAP scores, 504 plans, conferences, behavior plans or any other random teaching thing. They have other interests, and because of that they can take your focus off all the stress that those aforementioned things create!
This one isn't healthy, but it makes us happy!!!! I have proof... http://www.sciencefocus.com/blog/why-does-chocolat...
10. Just say NO!
For a long time I was that teacher who was always at school! I said yes to EVERYTHING. Every committee, every event, everything!! Now i pick and choose which I think are the most important to my students and I.
Overall do what makes you happy, not just what is best for your students, you deserve it!