We’re always so happy for students when summer finally rolls around, and we tell them to make sure they soak up every last summer ray, but when was the last time you took your own advice? We get it, it can be difficult. Staying on top of you summer to-do list is important, especially as the back-to-school season ramps back up, but not at the cost of family time, recreation, and even your own mental health.
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If you find yourself catching a quick look at your phone at the beach or sneaking a peek at emails during dinner, you likely need a break. You probably know this, but the question is, how do you truly disconnect?
Don’t guilt yourself over taking a break
It’s important to understand that you deserve a break. As a teacher, you have a lot on your shoulders. It’s easy to think you must constantly be plugged in and logged on to do your job well, but evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. According to the Harvard Business Bureau, taking time off increases productivity, lowers stress, and improves your mental health. What’s more, “Research shows that those who take more than 10 days of vacation are 30% more likely to receive a raise, and those who take regular vacations have greater job satisfaction.”
Though, if you’re not in school daily like you are during the school year, the lines between work life and home life can get blurred. This makes it harder to truly disconnect, especially since checking emails here and there after-hours doesn’t always feel like work. You might trick yourself into thinking you’re taking time off when you’re not, leaving you wondering why your break didn’t rejuvenate you like you hoped it would. That’s why disconnecting–really disconnecting–is so important.
Set a hard work schedule
If you’re getting yourself organized for the upcoming year, keep your work within a designated schedule. Yes, sometimes last-minute things come up that you must handle immediately, but once it’s dealt with, log off, turn off your notifications, and enjoy your evening. That is your time. Any emails you receive after hours can wait until tomorrow morning.
Leave your devices at home
Did you know two thirds of Americans work on vacation? Don’t be one of them, don’t even give yourself the option. No lesson planning, no checking your email for classroom assignments and information, leave all the devices you do your school prep on at home.
Still, work is only part of the equation. We spend a good chunk of our personal time on our devices. To cut down further on phone dependency, here are a few more tips:
Turn off your phone when you go out
Or even better, leave it in the car entirely. If you have kids that may need to reach you in an emergency, give them the phone number of whomever you’ll be with so they can still reach you.
Don’t post to social media immediately
We get it, the sunset looks absolutely gorgeous and you want everyone to be able to enjoy it too. Get your pictures, then put your phone away and enjoy the moment. It’ll pass you by if you spend so long thinking up the perfect caption!
Establish “old school” habits of reflection
Nowadays we tend to use our social media profiles as diaries. We keep everyone updated on our lives and recap our vacation days publicly, and in turn, our reflections can feel like a performance– especially as likes and comments come flooding in. Writing down your honest thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a private journal has so many benefits for your mental health, and it’s a space where you can truly be yourself.
Turn off notifications
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…those little dings give us a hit of dopamine we become dependent on. Turn off the apps’ ability to access you at all times by deactivating notifications. You’ll be thankful you’re not getting so distracted whenever you hear that little sound!
Charge your devices in a different room
Bonus points if it’s a room you don’t frequent. This goes double for your bedroom to fight that “check Facebook like it’s the morning paper” urge.
Delete your social media apps
If you want a thorough detox while on vacation, get rid of all your social media apps. You can’t be tempted to scroll through Instagram if you can’t access it!
Go somewhere remote
Some of the best places you’ll visit have terrible cell service. Visit National Parks, small beach towns, nearby mountains, anywhere that immerses you in nature and slows you down. You can’t be tempted by the phone if it barely works!
Have phone-free family time
While spending time with your family, have everyone agree to put the phones away so you can be together with minimal distractions. Go so far as to keep every phone in a designated location so no one is tempted to take it out of their pocket and start scrolling. It’s a habit we all have!