The start of a new school year can be an exciting time for educators, but it can also be stressful. You have a lot of responsibility to ensure that your students learn and grow. In addition, many educators are returning to the classroom after facing unexpected challenges, such as staff shortages or budget cuts. These challenges can create barriers to success, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with stress and overcome challenges.
Self-care is essential for educators, both physically and mentally. When you are healthy and happy, you are better able to support your students and create a thriving classroom environment. Here are a few tips for practicing self-care:
- Get enough sleep. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that you can function at your best. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Step away from devices. The light from electronic devices can interfere with sleep, so it’s important to avoid using them in the hour or two before bed. If you must keep it on for work or school, put it on silent so that the notifications don’t disturb you.
- Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated. Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks, and focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Release Endorphins. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve your mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Even a short walk after school with some deep breathing can help calm your mind.
- Take a break. Take a break every 20-30 minutes to move around and stretch. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting restless or tense.
- Spend time with loved ones. Social connection is fundamental for mental health. Make time to connect with loved ones on a regular basis, whether it’s going out for coffee with a friend, playing games with family, or simply chatting on the phone.
- Take care of your mental health. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to speak out and seek professional help. A therapist can help you develop coping mechanisms and strategies for dealing with stress.
In addition to taking care of yourself, you can also model self-care for your students. Here are a few ideas:
- Talk to your students about the importance of self-care. Encourage them to express their emotions and to seek help when they need it. Let them know that it’s okay to take breaks, to ask for help honestly, and to take care of their mental and physical health.
- Start the day with mindfulness. Begin with a mindfulness practice. This could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, stretching, or listening to calming music. Mindfulness practices can help you to focus on the present moment and to reduce stress.
- Encourage brain breaks. This could involve getting up and moving around, stepping outside for some fresh air, or doing a quick mindfulness activity. Brain breaks are a great way to recharge and re-energize, and they can help students to focus and learn more effectively.
- Create a positive learning environment. Students desire to feel safe, respected, and valued. This means being understanding and patient, providing students with the resources they need to succeed, and setting a supportive and positive example for them.
- Get them talking. Talk to students about their feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Let them know that it’s okay to feel stressed, angry, or sad sometimes, and that you are there to listen and help them. You can also provide them with strategies for dealing with difficult emotions.
- Help students cope. Help students develop coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, anger, and other difficult emotions. This could include teaching them relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or music/art therapies.
- Stay attentive to student well-being. If you are concerned that a student is struggling with self-care, you can offer to refer them to a counselor or mental health professional who can provide them with additional support. You know them best, and you can help them find the right resources to meet their needs.
The Edge•U Social Emotional badges in our Curated Collections provide educators with several ideas to jumpstart the year and create a culture of inclusivity and engagement. These badges are designed to help educators build relationships with their students and families, promote positive social-emotional learning, and provide strategies for inclusivity and diversity.
There are a variety of Edge•U badges in our library that are perfect for back-to-school. By using these badges, educators can foster a positive and productive learning environment where students feel supported and challenged.
Following these tips can help you have a healthy and happy school year. Remember, self-care is important for everyone, and it’s never too late to start taking good care of yourself!