The voice comes over the intercom on the plane that you sat down on just minutes ago. The common message we have heard one hundred times comes over the loudspeaker. “…A passenger should always put on his or her own oxygen mask on before helping children or other persons requiring assistance.” If only this message could come on in our homes, maybe through the tv, to remind us to take care of ourselves first in all of the other areas of our lives!
There is nothing more important than taking care of YOU – physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. Successfully taking care of ourselves allows us the ability to better support those around us from 7:30am-3:00pm Monday through Friday (and the other times as well). However, so often the days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and suddenly we have lost ourselves in lesson plans and paper grading, test scores and IEP meetings, progress reports and open houses. Some may refer to the feelings that can start to arise as feeling “burned out”, “spent”, or for some even feeling “compassion fatigue”. Whatever the feeling is, many of us have felt it before. It might be before winter break, before spring break, before summer break, or with no break in sight at all. We may feel physically or emotionally drained. There doesn’t seem to be enough gas in the tank to keep us running.
What do you do to take care of you?
Here is a quick list of 50 ideas (some big, some small) to help you take care of yourself. One size doesn’t fit all. Steal from these ideas or come up with your own! Whatever you do… take care of YOU! It will make you feel better, which will make you work better, which will ultimately support your students more positively and effectively.
- Drink a cup of coffee or tea and read inspiring words (from Brene Brown or Glennon D to name a few).
- Take a bath with oils or salts.
- Watch a stand-up comedy bit on tv or the computer.
- Pet your pet.
- Eat chocolate.
- Meditate for 8 minutes before bed.
- Do a yoga class.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Make your lunches for a week so that they are healthy, done, and ready to go.
- Iron your clothes for a week so that you get a few extra minutes at night or in the morning.
- Spend one class period with your students in silence. Use dry erase boards to communicate with one another. It changes the dynamic of the room completely and is neat to sit in silence that long.
- Go for a walk on your lunch break.
- Set boundaries for yourself.
- Set a time that you will leave school by each day, and make sure to stick to that for at least a week (boundaries are SO important).
- Take a day and eat your lunch in your classroom. Create a calming atmosphere with music or the lights off.
- Go out for lunch if you never do, or stay in for lunch if you go out every day.
- Go out for coffee with someone else who understands about the stresses that may be impacting your life
- Cook dinner.
- Go to a movie.
- Watch the sunset.
- Make an art project… even if you think you don’t possess any artistic abilities.
- Go out of town.
- Visit a bookstore near you and sit and read for as long as you want/need.
- Watch a movie from your childhood.
- Eat pizza.
- Eat pizza while watching a movie from your childhood.
- Invite a bunch of colleagues and eat pizza while watching a movie from your childhood…in the school auditorium (with permission).
- Get the Blizzard of the month from your local Dairy Queen.
- Go to a play or show.
- Listen to the waves (real if possible, fake if necessary).
- Invite students to come to your room for lunch for a week, just for fun- to talk and listen. Kids say the most amazing things when we listen.
- Call your mother, or don’t call your mother- whichever feels better in this moment.
- Use honey- for everything. There are a ridiculous amount of uses!
- Use coconut oil- for everything. There are a ridiculous amount of uses!
- If you normally get up early every day, let yourself sleep in an extra 15 minutes. It you normally do 3 snoozes and just make it to work as the kids are walking through the door, go to bed early and then get up early for a week!
- Park farther from the door in the morning and walk a little extra. The fresh air is good for you.
- Drink a lot of water. Bring a Nalgene to work and fill it up 3 times throughout the day.
- During a free period go outside, lay down, and look up at the sky. Changing your perspective for a bit can be invigorating.
- Wear different shoes or different socks one day, just because it feels good to break the mold sometimes.
- Say hello to 5 people you don’t normally say hello to.
- Listen to music loud (not too loud) in your car on the way to work.
- Meditate for 8 minutes before lunch.
- Hug someone.
- Tell someone you need a hug.
- Go to a pet store and look at the puppies.
- Write your thoughts down on paper.
- Acknowledge that you are normal for feeling how you feel. Then remind yourself how amazing you are for doing this incredible work and of all of the lives you touch every single day.
- Then come to school tomorrow with your head held a little higher and continue to help create the futures of our world.
You are making a difference every single day, even if you don’t get told often enough, even if you don’t get thanked enough. YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE…
But it’s okay to take care of yourself! If you suffer, they all suffer. Put your oxygen mask on first, and don’t feel badly about it.