Brianne Gidcumb | August 2017

Self-Care Practices for Educators

As a new school year begins, as the long days, the piles of paperwork, the hustle and bustle of school days begin, we have an opportunity for a fresh start. We start off with the best of intentions, making resolutions for a happier, more productive, more successful year. And slowly but surely, our own self-care starts to take a back seat as we drive to give our students so much of ourselves. We become run-down, stressed out, sick, and tired. So as we start this new year, we can set intentions and resolve to make changes for a healthier self to make that happier, more productive, more successful year possible and avoid teacher burnout.

“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn

As educators, it is important to remember that you are the greatest asset to your classroom and to your students. You are responsible for facilitating your students’ growth and learning: it is an awesome privilege and responsibility. And if you don’t protect the asset (you) and you allow teacher burnout to consume you, your students will be impacted as well. It is not only okay to take care of yourself- it is necessary. A little self-care goes a long way. As you start a new school year, take the time to create some intentions for self-care this year.

Get Moving. Exercise can be hard to work into our busy schedules, but know that you don’t have to run a marathon to help nourish your body and clear your head. A little movement goes a long way, and once you get started, you just might want to keep going. Reduce your stress, strengthen your immune system, and boost your mood with just a little physical activity.

    • Take a walk
    • Join a gym
    • Go to a yoga class
    • Go hiking
    • Start a teacher workout group before or after school
    • Dance

Do Less. Despite our efforts to do it all, we have limits. Knowing those limits and respecting them allows us to focus our efforts and maximize our effectiveness. Make an effort to eliminate any clutter in your schedule, your physical space, and your emotional being to create space for what works.

    • Learn to say “no”
    • Let go of what doesn’t work
    • Prioritize
    • Clear the clutter
    • Eliminate toxic influences

Nourish Your Spirit. Teaching is more than a job: it is a calling. It is something that consumes our waking moments, and we often strive to find an appropriate work-life balance. As much as this career can be a reward in and of itself, it shouldn’t be the only thing that nourishes us. Put time and effort into finding fulfillment outside of the classroom.

    • Find a work-life balance
    • Make time for fun
    • Connect with friends/family
    • Examine your priorities
    • Take a class
    • Take up a new hobby

Take a Break. This one can be tricky. It’s hard to find a moment of peace and quiet between the hustle and bustle of our school environment and our home lives. But it’s vital to our mental and emotional well-being to devote some time to quiet, to solitude, to restoration. Even ten minutes of quiet time during your lunch break can have an incredible restorative effect- schedule breaks for yourself and honor those breaks just as you would any commitment on your calendar.

    • Schedule quiet time
    • Meditate
    • Read
    • Connect with nature
    • Take a bubble bath
    • Take a nap

Create. Creative pursuits have the potential to be incredibly fulfilling and restorative. They are a means of expressing ourselves, of finding fulfillment, or simply escaping our troubles for a moment. Whether you are experienced or novice, pursuing an old passion or picking up a new hobby, get creative this school year!

    • Knit
    • Draw
    • Paint
    • Play an instrument/sing
    • Dance
    • Journal
    • Write

Check out these other articles on avoiding teacher burnout:

Happy Teachers, Happy Students

Refilling the Educator Cup

Refocus, Revamp, Revitalize

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: https://artsintersection.wordpress.com/