As educators, we plan constantly. Most of the time it is for our students. We do this, so our classrooms run smoothly, and we can guarantee that we have covered everything in our curriculum. If you’re a parent, you plan constantly. Most of the time it is for our family members. We do this, so our households run smoothly, and we can guarantee that everyone gets their needs met. As a human being, as an individual person, however, we rarely plan strictly for the benefit of ourselves to guarantee that we do not burn out.
I had a very stressful day the other day. More than usual. I felt like I was running on all cylinders. I was trying to plan for everything that was currently happening, reflect on what had already happened, and trying to predict what will be happening in the future. My ears must have had steam leaking out of them like in a cartoon, because a woman in line at the grocery store asked if I was ok. At first, I was embarrassed by how outwardly rundown I must have seemed, but then I sighed, looked right at her and said, “Ya know, I’m not sure.”
This is a stunning admission for me. Usually, like most people, I smile through it. I act like I’ve got everything under control even if things are falling apart behind the curtain. There was something refreshing about just admitting that I was having a hard time. She sweetly grabbed my hand, and said, “You need to make a plan to take care of yourself.”
Take Care of Myself?
I thought this was so interesting. Planning is so much a part of our lives, it should be easy to plan some time for myself. Or so I thought. I fell down the rabbit hole of self-care sites, checklists of things to do for yourself, and words of wisdom or daily mantras. This was fine, but it just did not seem to fit me exactly.
The problem with these structured lists and plans are that they do not apply to everyone and they shouldn’t. “Take a Walk on the Beach” is fine for people who live by water, but the idea of that empty, unchecked box on the list would make me uncomfortable. Sometimes you might want to join a pottery class and sometimes you might just want to take a nap. The thought of being forced to do just one more thing because it is on a schedule does not make me feel relaxed.
This is when I decided to create my own custom plan to take care of myself this summer. One that fits just me. I began by asking myself these questions and making a simple set of lists.
- If you had an entire day to do whatever you wanted, how would you spend it?
- What makes you happy?
- What is something you have always wanted to try?
- What is something you want to get better at?
- What friends or family members would you like to reconnect with?
- What have you been meaning to get to?
- Top 5 Favorite Things
- Top 5 Favorite Activities
- Top 5 Favorite Foods
- Top 5 Splurges
Now that I have completed my list, I am going to pledge to do at least one of these things a day, but not limit myself to just one. I hope that this list will give me an outline for taking care of myself by doing things that are tailor made just for me.
There is so much happening during the summer months that it can sometimes feel the opposite of relaxing. Pool parties, curriculum development, vacations, or new professional opportunities. Take some time to fill out this list. Ask yourselves these questions and plan to take care of yourself this summer too.
What do you do for yourself to prevent burn out? Let us know in the comments below!
Lauren Hodson is a middle school visual and computer art educator in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a mentor teacher and professional development presenter, Lauren is passionate about creativity and making art accessible for everyone. Her passions in STEAM and Arts Integration are at the root of her goal to collaborate with classroom teachers everywhere.