Summer break is a great time for educators to get into a self-care routine they can carry into the next school year.
by Emily Graham, update by Jessica Ward
Another year in the books! As the school year comes to an end, you can see the bright summer light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re sure you still have tons of work to do! From final grades to classroom cleanup, there’s quite a bit separating you from summer vacation bliss. Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this busy time.
Teacher self-care is vital for avoiding professional burnout. If your self-care routine has suffered this school year, the summer break is the perfect time to find new ways to relax, rest, and rejuvenate after this challenging school year.
Self-care can mean different things to different people, but at the most basic level it means taking care of yourself so you can show up for the people in your life. Self-care can be anything that improves your physical or mental wellbeing. It could be as simple as setting aside time for exercise, planning regular dinners with friends, or picking up an old hobby that you do just for fun.
Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Even if your summer calendar is packed with teacher professional development sessions or a summer job, you can find self-care activities that work for you. Make those activities part of your regular routine, so that when school starts again in the fall, it will be easier to keep the healthy habits going. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.
Make a self-care wish list. Start by thinking about the things you wish you had time to do during the school year. Is there a TV show you’ve been wanting to catch up on? A yoga class you couldn’t work into your school day schedule? Or do you just want to sleep in later this summer? Make a list of those self-care activities and think about which ones you’d enjoy doing the most.
Brainstorm new things to try. Think beyond your wish list and consider new activities you’d like to try out. The extra unscheduled hours you have in the summer may give you the time to take a cooking class, visit local art museums, or learn some of the TikTok dances your students are crazy about. Blogger and middle school counselor The Counseling Teacher’s compiled this list of 50 Self-Care Ideas for Educators that can help get your brainstorming started.
Make a self-care plan. For many adults, self-care doesn’t happen unless it’s on the calendar. It’s easy to put off what one might view as a selfish activity for other important adult tasks. The Mindful Teachers website has teacher self-care resources, along with tips for creating a realistic plan for self-care. As you make your plan, be sure to include activities that promote general health, like getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and being physically active.
Keep it simple. Think about small things you can do over time to build healthy habits rather than one big activity, which can be intimidating. You may aspire to hike the Appalachian Trail someday, but start by taking daily walks in the park this summer. If your budget won’t allow for a tropical island getaway, enjoy a fruity drink while relaxing in a wading pool in the backyard.
Treat yourself. Stretch your budget further by taking advantage of teacher perks like educator discounts, grants, and contests. You’ll also find discounts offered by national retailers and learn about teacher grant programs on our Teacher Discounts & Grants page. Look into grants for teachers for educational workshops or professional development sessions, like the National Endowment for Humanities summer programs and other summer fellowships for teachers.
Step up your sleep routine. If you’ve been cutting corners on sleep—staying up late grading or writing lesson plans—summer is a great time to improve your sleep habits. The Sleep Foundation offers these tips to improve sleep hygiene.
Eat healthy foods. If you turned to fast food a little too often to make it through busy school nights, work on reducing your trips through the drive-through. Pick up fresh produce at the farmer’s market and build meals around them. Or start smaller, adding one new healthy food to your diet.
Get physical activity. Exercise isn’t just good for your physical health. It can also boost your mood. If starting a new exercise routine feels daunting, start small with brief activities like a single-song dance party, walking the dog, or a swim in the neighborhood pool.
Get outside. There’s a natural healing quality to being outside. Whether you’re going on a morning hike or spending the day at the beach, disconnecting from social media and focusing on nature is a sure way to feel more refreshed at the end of the day.
Learn about the Teacher Self-Care Conference. If you can’t make it to the day-long conference, check out online courses on teacher burnout and other topics.
Look for a Happy Teacher Revolution support group near you.
Listen to former teacher Sarah Forst talk about self-care and work-life balance on The Teacher Career Coach podcast. Forst now champions self-care with her subscription box service, Teacher Care Crate.
Teach Smart With Me offers several self-care tools for teachers, including a self-care inventory and a downloadable self-care calendar.