Teachers do so much when schools are operating as usual, and right now teacher life is anything but usual across the country. Many teachers are working so hard to make their lessons accessible online and trying to support their students, and often they end up putting their own well-being at risk.
If you’re a teacher who’s feeling alone or overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, self-care can be a helpful way to find the strength you need to make it through the end of the school year. Keep these seven tips in mind to make sure you’re taking care of yourself while teaching from home. Remember that taking care of you is one way you can help take care of your students and family.
1. Don’t try to do everything at once
Teaching priorities are constantly changing as schools shift to online learning. It’s easy to feel like you’re scrambling to get everything done.
Trying to do everything and be the “perfect” teacher is a road that leads to burnout. Instead, make a list of three to five tasks you need to get done each day. That way, you can keep track of what’s most important to do and recognize what you are doing instead of what you aren’t.
2. Maintain a routine as much as you can
When school is held in the classroom, your job likely has a built-in schedule that doesn’t vary much from week to week. That’s part of the reason switching to home learning can be such a shock. Setting a new routine for yourself as soon as you can will give your day a similar sense of structure and calm. You could, for example, always grade assignments in the morning or hold virtual lessons in the afternoon.
3. Take time for your social, mental, and physical health
If you’re under self-quarantine or limiting your time outside, it might be harder than before to make sure your emotional and physical needs are being met. Outside of teaching, make time every day for simple, healthy habits.
A few examples of healthy habits you can practice while social distancing include:
- Social: Call or message a friend you haven’t seen in a while
- Mental: Practice mindfulness by doing a few breathing exercises in the morning before you start work
- Physical: Go on a walk around your neighborhood or a nearby trail
While working from home, your school day or office hours may have no set “end.” However, if you don’t make boundaries for yourself, you risk feeling unable to rest after a long day teaching. Set an amount of hours similar to what you would spend in class working from home. When those hours have passed, give yourself permission to log off and recharge.
5. Ask for help when needed
No teacher should feel like they have to work through the pandemic alone. If you feel overwhelmed or confused, reach out to a colleague or supervisor. They can help you come up with ways to make the hardest parts of teaching from home more manageable.
6. Do something to unwind after work
Bringing relaxation into your daily routine can help you establish some needed distance between your personal and work life. Once you’ve finished teaching for the day, do something that you enjoy and that helps you decompress.
This could be anything from reading a book you love to brewing yourself a relaxing cup of tea or spending time in the sun. As long as it makes you happy and helps you take your mind off teaching for a few hours, it can be a great way to take time for yourself.
7. Make space for gratitude in your life
It can be so difficult to find positives about a challenging situation. But by taking time to reflect on what still brings your life hope and joy, you can gain the strength you need to make it through. Before you start work for the day, make a list of three things that you’re grateful for and try to keep them in mind when you’re feeling downhearted.