As educators, most of us, especially women, feel as if we must be the ones to take
care of numerous things such as our students, families, home, pets, and jobs of
course. Little do we know that if we don't first take care of ourselves, then taking
care of the other things mentioned become more difficult. Below I have listed
several areas to think about, along with a few tips and ideas to help promote self
health! Enjoy...focus on YOU because YOU deserve it!
*How to manage stress: Everyone experiences stress differently, so knowing what triggers that stress for you is the first place to start. Once you begin feeling stressed, figure out what works for you to de-escalate. Something as simple as taking a short walk, or using patterned breathing may be beneficial for you. I find that I must walk away from the situation and do something completely mindless like vaccuum or take a quick power nap. Upon doing these things, I feel less stressed and ready to move on. Of course when I'm at school I can't vacuum or nap, so I find other ways to vent. I tend to write the things down that are bothering me, and then throw it away. Upon throwing it away, it's done. At times, I also write things down to simply get them off my mind and then move on, coming back to it later when I do not feel as worked up over it. Try different things, you may surprise yourself in what you find. First recognize the stressor, and then focus on what makes you feel a sense of relief. Remember that some things are out of your control...focus on those things you can control!
*Be sure to meet your basic needs: Everyone needs sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition to ensure that we are functioning at our our max! Set up a routine and be sure that you are getting ample sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Even if it's only 20 minutes a day for exercise, you will notice a difference in your system and stress levels. Plan ahead for proper nutrition by planning out your dinners with your family, and then allow others to help you prepare them. When you're done eating, pack up the left overs for lunch to ensure you're getting a healthy lunch during the week too!
*Building relationships with colleagues, administrators, students, families: Be sure that you build relationships with those around you so that you feel supported and energized by your colleagues. On the same note, be sure you do the same for them. Building a positive relationship with colleagues is crucial to work happiness. Some of my best friends are my colleagues who I find myself venting with, laughing with, and even crying with. Support each other, fill each other's bucket, and just be there to check in because you are in it together. On a similar note, form a bond with your administrator but tread carefully...there is a fine line here. Invite them into your classroom to allow them to see what you are doing and dealing with on a daily basis, or pop into their office just to see how they're doing. Remember that they are people too, and forming that bond can prove to be beneficial for you both. Show students that you care about them, not just as students, but as people. Catch them doing the right thing and commend them for it. Form a rapport with their parents by emailing home when they're doing well, not just when they're struggling. Acknowledge student's interests by attending extra curricular activities and show their parents that you genuinely care for their child.
*Self-efficacy...it matters: For goodness sakes, give yourself some credit! When someone compliments your students, say thank you! Do not downplay their actions or something that you did in fear of coming across as cocky. Your students, and what occurs in your classroom, are a direct reflection of you. Celebrate those little things and be proud of your students. After all, they are making the right choices and working hard not just for themselves, but for you. Not only should you let them what know what fills your bucket, but also what dips into it. They are kids, most of them are pleasers, and they want to do well for you.
*Create a fun and engaging classroom: Have fun with your students!! Let them know your hobbies and interests because the more they feel that they know you, the better the rapport will be. Do not overdue it though! Teach them that if they work hard, they will get smart, and getting smarter can be, and IS, fun! Provide some type of engaging classroom behavior system that takes the team to work. I personally use a bingo board in my room. In the beginning of the year they earn bingo chips from numbers 1-100 for just about every good thing they do. As the year progresses those little things become expected things; therefore, they must go above and beyond to earn the chips. If they fill individual rows, they will earn a small prize, and if they fill the whole board, they'll earn a pizza party! They realize that they can earn them quickly, and lose them even faster. They also know it takes every single one of them to earn the chips...it's a team effort that encourages good behavior and more time for learning!
*Managing one’s time and energy & learning to say no: When teaching on a daily basis, lesson planning, and balancing life with work, one must learn to say no. There are times that you have too much going on to take on any more. When this occurs, it's okay to say no. Do not feel as if you are going to hurt someone's feelings. They are adults and will get over it. If you feel obligated to do something and then can't pull your weight, it will make you feel even worse. Be sure your basic needs are being met so you do not stretch yourself thin. Managing your time and energy directly tie with this. Plan ahead, know when you work best, and get as much bang for your buck as you can!
*Remember...you can't do it all! Breathe, let it go, and focus on the now. You
must take care of you before you can take care of anyone else!*