Teachers, Appreciate Yourselves

Shannon explains why it is important that teachers appreciate themselves and everything they do for their students. Even if it's just a few minutes each day, it is important to take care of yourself this week and every week.

Updated on: April 22, 2019

teacher appreciation

Teacher Appreciation Week is always one of the school year’s highlights, especially if you are fortunate enough to teach in a community with supportive parents. The cards, letters, and treats are welcome tokens of appreciation, but it’s important to appreciate yourself every day of the year. Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week by trying something new that enhances your health and well-being.

Positive Affirmations

We see them everywhere these days, but have you adopted some affirmations for yourself? If you need ideas, you can research online and find some affirmations that speak to you. Write them down and keep them by your bedside. Then read them every evening before bed and when you wake up in the morning. Or you can post them in a spot where you will see them several times a day, like inside your desk drawer or on your phone. There are also several free and low-cost affirmation apps out there. Focusing on affirmations can help retrain your subconscious, increase positive thinking, and form positive habits.

Healthy Diet

With the stress of teaching, it can be easy to consume too much sugar, caffeine, or junk food. Staff rooms can be dangerous territory where doughnuts and treats regularly appear, and not just during Teacher Appreciation Week. If you want to improve your diet, start slowly by making small changes. Concentrate on one thing to cut back on or perhaps cut out of your diet. Or you can focus on adding healthier foods. It takes time to change habits; don’t give up when your willpower fails. Restart the next day and keep working on improvement.

Exercise

You don’t have to start training for a marathon, but daily exercise can vastly improve your well-being and your quality of life. If you don’t exercise regularly, the most natural step to take is to start walking, even if it is just ten minutes a day. Better yet, find a friend who will commit to walking with you regularly. The mutual support will help keep you on track. Do you have a bike? When was the last time you got it out and went for a ride? Besides improving your body’s physical condition, regular exercise will help reduce stress and raise endorphin levels.

Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong

There is a reason these techniques have been around for centuries. They can all make a significant difference in your life by helping you to reduce stress, gain focus, and tone your body. Don’t be intimidated if you have never tried any of them before. Everyone was once a beginner. Sign up for a class at a local studio or health club to try one out. You can also check out some YouTube videos to see what they are all about.

(If you are interested in challenging yourself by trying a new activity or exercise routine, be sure to check with your doctor first.)

A New Hobby or Craft

When was the last time you did something creative just for fun? We often encourage creativity in our students but don’t feel we have time to create for ourselves. It’s easy to underestimate the value of creativity when we are wrapped up with to-do lists. Is there a musical instrument that you have been thinking about learning? Have you always wanted to draw or paint? Look into taking lessons or check out your local art studio or community college. If you have the interest, the resources are out there. One of my teacher friends watches Bob Ross videos on YouTube and copies his techniques. She now proudly displays her creations on her living room walls. 

Supportive Relationships and Social Life

Do you have friends or family members who lift you up and take you away from the teacher mindset? Or are you getting weighed down by toxic relationships that are sapping your precious energy? With the demands of teaching, you need to focus on the people in your life who support you and give you life. Take some time to think about those with whom you are closest. Is there a toxic friendship that you need to walk away from? Do you have a coworker who only seems to complain or vent all the time? Sometimes we can’t completely abandon a negative relationship, but there are ways to minimize your interaction with that person. Let them know that you can talk about a problem at a specific time, or if you feel comfortable, have a discussion with that person to see if you can take the discussion in a more positive, problem-solving direction. Also, it’s essential to have friends outside of the teaching profession to help get away from talking shop.

Maybe it is time to expand your social horizons. One way to meet new people is to check out Meetup groups online in your local area. You will find a wide variety of groups enjoying activities together. If you have an interest, you will find others who share it. There are groups that meet to speak foreign languages, play games, dance, participate in sports, discuss politics, or just socialize. 

Rest and Rejuvenation

Don’t wait until June to take care of yourself. Even if it is just ten minutes a day, find time for self-care. Experiment and figure out what works best for you. I have been a longtime advocate of walking, yoga, and napping. My regular routine was to take a walk after school to release the stress of the day. I usually followed this with some yoga. But there were also days when a twenty-minute nap was the immediate priority. Listen to your body and treat it well. If you take care of your health and well-being outside of work, you will have more energy to bring your best to the classroom. 

For additional resources on teacher self-care check out: Your Teacher Self-Care Workbook

How do you take care of yourself? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Shannon Krzyzewski is a veteran educator with over twenty-five years of experience teaching Spanish, English/Language Arts, and Social Studies at both the middle and high school levels in the Seattle area. She is now a freelance writer, editor, and educational consultant residing in Montana’s Flathead Valley.

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