Five Ways to Practice Self-Care As An Educator
Another school year is in the books, and now it is time for you to do that one very important thing most of us neglect to do all year: take care of YOU. We hear the talk of self-care all school year, but how committed to it are you, if you ask yourself honestly? We all can cite from thousands of school-based issues that get in the way of allowing us to be our best selves. But if you practice over the summer, maybe you’ll find some routines that fill you with so much joy, they will carry over into the school year.
Need some suggestions? Here are 5 simple things I’m going to do this summer to heal any new wounds (or re-opened old ones) and come back even stronger than ever for 18-19!
1) Start every morning with movement – preferably outside
My favorite way to start the day is with a hike or a trail run. Living in Denver, I have access to mountains and forests that I just don’t take advantage of as much as I should in the school months. But spending time in the peace of a trail in the cool morning air is the most grounding and rejuvenating thing I can do. A clear head then allows me to focus my energy for item number 2.
2) Commit to one hour of professional reading a day – preferably outside
Like many of you, I have a stack of books I’ve been collecting all year. Not to mention the items waiting for me in my Amazon cart, plus everything from Twitter I’ve saved to Google Keep that I need to revisit. So, this is the plan: I exercise in the cool of the morning, then take my coffee, my book and my computer to my deck and dive into all those notes I made throughout the year. I LOVE this process. My mind stays school-sharp, and because it is on my terms and by my choice, it doesn’t feel like Work. When I’m fresh and focused, I can use this time to reflect on what I did this past year and really hold the space for new ideas to develop. I also commit to keeping this time SACRED (with room for modification for vacations or when other summer awesomeness comes up.)
3) Take naps – preferably outside
I have always compared that first week after the close of a school year to deep sea divers with the bends. If your school is anything like mine, you’ve been entrenched in varying degrees of chaos for months, only to have that suddenly ripped away from you. There is no schedule. No meetings. No small armies of other humans making demands on your mental and emotional states. Sometimes, this is harder to adjust to than learning how to function in the chaos. In the summer, I like to maintain a schedule; but it’s important not to OVER schedule. Though summer provides you with the freedom and flexibility to hold crazy hours by choice, I love to go to bed at a regular time and wake up early enough to soak in the morning perfection. And like my one hour of professional reading, I will also commit to one hour of mid-day rest (with room for modification for vacations or when other summer awesomeness comes up.) Whether I’m tired or not, I’m all about the consistency of nap time to help me stay alert and focused on all of the amazing things around me. There’s tons of research to back this up – a quick google search and you’ll be scheduling your naps, too!
4) Eat delicious food – preferably outside
There has been many a September that I have felt the need to detox from the summer. There are so many opportunities to enjoy food and drink on a backyard patio, a rooftop deck, a baseball game, etc, etc, that I often find myself returning to school, saying something like, ‘Ok, I’m back on a schedule; no more x, y, and z.’ This summer, I’m going to try to keep it healthy and in moderation (with room for modification for vacations or when other summer awesomeness comes up.) I’m going to swap daily ice cream for gelato. Instead of a burger at EVERY barbeque, maybe a bunless chicken breast or veggie kabob. This is not meant to be restrictive by any means, it’s just my way of keeping to the intention of returning to school in the fall as the best version of myself.
5) Spend time with people I love – preferably outside
If you are an extrovert, you can combine this one with any of the above activities. For my introverted self, actions 1, 2 and 3 provide me the intentional space to quietly and individually feed my soul. After a solo run, an hour of reading and a nap, I’m ready to check in with those I love and who I’ve probably neglected during the school year. I keep a running list of those with whom I need to reconnect, and I start by just checking in via text. This typically leads to a combination with action number 4, which also contributes to my soul’s regeneration.
As I write this, it is a Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow is my first day of summer, and I’m so excited to avoid the ‘end of school bends’ this year, and focus instead on staying on top of my game by spending my summer intentionally. Will you join me?
A 20 year veteran of education worldwide, Kristen Moreland is committed to bringing humanity back to education. A soul supporter, a language artist, and a social justice gladiator, you can follow her on Twitter @kmorekin and on Instagram @educatorsforhumanity.