With the end of summer, comes the beginning of a new school year. a lot of teachers have a hard time transitioning back into school mode along with their students. It’s always a big change to go from a carefree summer to a stressful school year. There are so many different stressors that teachers experience throughout the school year. It’s extra important that they schedule in time for self-care throughout the school year. The best time to start a new self-care habit is at the beginning of a new routine. So it’s most helpful to start now.
Anchor Therapy is a counseling center in Hoboken, NJ with psychotherapists specialized to help teens and adults with anxiety, depression, and life transitions.
Here are some self-care tips below:
Connect with uplifting colleagues
If you surround yourself with other teachers and colleagues who are stressed, frustrated, and/or negative then you will most likely start to feel the same way. On the other hand, if you surround yourself with positive colleagues then you will most likely feel more positive while at work. You can also spend some time with close colleagues outside of work, which is always a nice experience.
Go for a walk or go outside
As a teacher, you usually spend a lot of time in the classroom. If you have a free period or lunch break, try to take some time to fully take a break from work and take a walk outside or eat your lunch outside. You can also apply this to outside of working hours. Going for a walk after work can help you clear your mind from the stressors of the day.
Leave work at work
Having a work-life balance is very important for everyone. It is common for a teacher to experience work-related anxiety (what you need to know about work-related anxiety). When you leave work, you shouldn’t look at your work emails or be working on schoolwork. Really try to get everything done at school if you can so that you can keep a boundary between work and relaxing/fun time outside of work. If you need to prep for classes, then schedule a specific time to do so, such as Sunday night. So that you don’t end up working or thinking about school work all weekend. And if someone calls or emails you on the weekend or a late weeknight, they will not expect an answer from you until school hours so there’s no need to respond until then.
Do physical activities you enjoy
Exercise is a great way to find stress relief from your job and to clear your mind. You can go to a gym class, exercise on your own, take your dog for a walk, join a kickball league, etc. In Hoboken, ZogSports is a common intramural sports league that can help you meet others in the community.
Read a book that you enjoy
Reading a book for school or for your students does not count. Find a book that you would fully enjoy for yourself. It could be hard to prioritize reading for enjoyment so you may want to schedule out some time each day to read. Maybe it’s the 30 minutes before bed, during your commute, or on a lunch break. You could also get an audio book if that’s easier with your lifestyle.
Treat Yo’ self!
This doesn’t have to mean you spend all your money on extravagant items. But you should treat yourself from time to time. Plan a vacation, get a manicure, get a massage, get your favorite coffee, etc. You deserve some nice things/moments with the money you earn from all of your hard work.
Bring healthy food to work
This is a big one. Usually teachers find it hard to find time to eat throughout the day and if they have a short amount of time then they may buy whatever’s easiest to eat in the moment. If you want to feel your best self throughout the day and stay energized then you should plan ahead and bring in some healthy food. You want to eat a lot of protein to keep you energized and satisfied throughout the day. And some snacks that are easy to eat when you have a few free moments.
Remember to start fresh everyday
This is a big one for teachers. Even if yesterday your class was behaving terribly, you want to treat each day like new. Yes, you may have another bad day but you really can’t predict that. You have to deal with issues as they arise and not worry about when the next time will be. Just stay focused on the present moment and when you wake up, it’s a new start. Nothing’s happened yet today.
Use positive self-talk
Remind yourself that you’re only human and you’re doing the best you can. Honestly, even if you’re helping one student then that is a success. Not everyone will appreciate all the work you do. But you can appreciate yourself and acknowledge that being a teacher is hard and you are doing your best.
Spend time with family and friends
When you are outside of work, you want to spend time with others who make you happy. Plan ahead a fun activity or trip with your friends and family for the weekends. This will help you get through the work week.
Be comfortable saying , “No” to extra obligations
As a teacher, your administration will always ask you to go above and beyond your job description. Sometimes it will be paid such as after school help, but other times it will not be paid. Decide if these extra obligations are really something that is worth your free time and/or worth the money if applicable. You want to really take the time to decide what’s worth your time since these extra obligations will eat into your self-care time. If you come to the conclusion that you do not want to go above and beyond, then you don’t need to and it is okay to set that boundary and say, “no”.
In this new school year, take the time to plan out and practice self-care so that you can avoid burnout. And if you find yourself getting work-related anxiety or feeling overwhelmed then you can always practice self-care by treating yourself to mental health therapy sessions. A lot of teachers find therapy helpful during the school year to help them cope with the stressors of the job. If you are interested in therapy services or have any questions, fill out the form below to directly email me.
Courtney Glashow, LCSW
is a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Hoboken, New Jersey. She specializes in helping teens and adults with anxiety, depression, and life transitions through counseling. Courtney can help NY or NJ residents through telehealth (video/phone) therapy sessions as well.