Teachers are, without a doubt, one of the most essential figures in our society. They play a vital role in shaping the young minds of tomorrow and preparing our children for the future. However few people appreciate just how taxing a teacher's day can be.
Teaching academics is the relatively easy part, but what about everything else that teachers are responsible for navigating?
Alongside actually teaching subjects, they play the role of mediator, counsellor, educator, and administrator to name a few.
It’s therefore hardly surprising that teaching is often described as an extremely demanding job – emotionally, mentally and, for those in early childhood, physically too.
They are often dealing with challenging student behaviors, learning difficulties, demanding parents and unrealistic departmental expectations, all adding to their already burgeoning workloads. This all takes an its toll on teacher's mental health.
Physical health often suffers too, especially in the early childhood sector, where educators are often picking up children, bending down to low tables, and sitting on the floor or in small chairs. The demands of the job can lead to back pain, neck pain and other physical issues.
The school day may officially start at 9 and end at 3, but teachers start and finish way earlier, leaving very little time for themselves. Add in the past 2.5 years of Covid chaos and it’s no wonder that we are currently facing a crisis of teacher shortages and high percentages of burnout.
Self-care is crucial for our teachers and offering them health and wellbeing support to prevent burnout and maintain mental and physical health is critical if we are to keep our teachers in their jobs AND make the teaching profession appealing to our youth.
Self-care for teachers
- Exercise regularly – yoga, pilates, swim, walk, run – whatever you enjoy, do it!
- Meditate and become more Mindful - Take time to slow down. Enjoy a guided meditation and start to bring a sense of mindfulness to basic tasks like folding the laundry.
- Eat healthy foods – lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and limited amounts of processed food, carbonated drinks and saturated fats.
- Get into nature – it does wonders for nourishing your soul.
- Punctuate your day with breathing mindfully – just 10 deep belly breaths will help to shift your nervous system from stress to rest and digest.
- Get enough sleep – both in quality and quantity.
Make exercise a part of your daily self-care routine
One way to incorporate self-care into your daily routine is through exercise. Aim for a minimum of 15 minutes but obviously the more time you can spend moving, the better for your overall health and wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional.
Yoga is one of Australia’s fastest growing “sports” and studies show that yoga, with its focus on breath and mindfulness, can help to lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality and reduce stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness has also been shown to be beneficial for overall health and wellbeing. Research indicates that mindfulness can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase focus and concentration.
Yoga, breath and mindfulness can be practised anywhere, at any time. Take a few minutes each day to focus on your breath and be present in the moment. This simple self-care practice can make a big difference in your overall health and wellbeing.
Meditate and make time for Mindfulness
It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the classroom and forget to take a break. However, it is important to take time for yourself.
Another important self-care tip for teachers is to allow yourself to slow down. Use your lunch break as an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate. Perhaps a mindful walk, without your phone, in the school grounds or nearby park. Or find a quiet spot to sit and breathe.
Before lights out, listen to a guided meditation, or start your day with one. And bring a sense of mindfulness to basic tasks like the folding laundry, cooking and cleaning.
Whatever you do, make sure you take some time each day to unwind and recharge your batteries.
Eating healthy foods
Eating healthy foods is another important self-care tip for teachers. When you’re busy and stressed, it can be tempting to reach for unhealthy comfort foods. However, it’s important to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
Amp up the healthy foods in your diet - fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats – and reduce the processed foods and unhealthy fats and sugars.
A fibre fueled, nutrient-rich diet will elevate your energy, improve your overall sense of wellbeing and nourish you from the inside out.
Get into Nature and nourish your soul
It’s hard to beat the medicine we receive from simply being in nature. Fresh air, the mysteries of our four legged and winged friends, the sounds of the ocean waves and the feel of soft sand or green grass under our bare feet. These are pleasures that money cannot buy and nourish ALL of ourselves – body, mind and spirit.
Punctuate your day with breathing mindfully
There's a big difference between breathing to stay alive and breathing mindfully. Both are important! Our breath is a powerful tool when it comes to affecting our nervous system and ultimately regulating how we feel. Endless research attests to the many health benefits of mindful breathing. With stress and anxiety amongst teachers at an all-time high, gifting yourself with slow, mindful breaths will go a long way to relieve stress, tension and overwhelm.
Enough sleep – both in quality and quantity
Getting enough sleep is another crucial self-care tip for teachers. Lacking sleep can lead to irritability and moodiness. When you’re stressed, chances are you’ll have interrupted sleep. And when you are tired, it can be difficult to concentrate and focus on your work. You can begin to feel like a mouse on a spinning wheel and things can get out of hand quickly.
Attend to your sleep – both the amount and the quality. If you engage in the self-care tips for teachers mentioned above, chances are your sleep will improve you feel healthier, stronger and better able to tackle the many challenges of your job.
The Karma Class has created a staff development workshop that provides teachers with tools and tips to weave a daily self-care routine into your day to help manage stress, build inner-wellness, improve sleep quality and boost your overall health and wellbeing. It’s the perfect staff meeting booster and gift of gratitude to your staff.
What you can expect in the workshop:
- Experience the many benefits of gentle movement to mindful breath (educators who are pregnant or need to be on chairs can participate)
- Learn tools to use throughout your day to stay calm and reduce stress – a BIG benefit to you AND your students
- Create a SIMPLE AND EASY self-care routine that keeps you feeling healthy, nourished, inspired and enthusiastic
- Receive a take home Self Care E-book packed with ideas to nourish your Body, Mind and Soul
- One to two hour options
- Delivered face to face or live online via Zoom