Teachers, Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourselves During These Stressful Times

Teachers, Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself During These Stressful Times

Thousands of teachers were already exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed and near burnout before the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost overnight teachers were slapped with even more responsibility – figuring out how to transform their content and classroom experience into an online format. Now many teachers are working even more hours from home than they did before (which seemed impossible) while needing to care for their own children…and search for toilet paper. Stress and exhaustion lower immunity, so it’s more important than ever teachers take care of themselves right now. We got some tips from mental health therapist Eve Sturges

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1. Practice self-care

“Now is the time, more than ever, to open up the self-care toolbox and put everything to use,” Sturges says. The best self-care for many of us these days is a break from technology. Put your phone and tablets in a drawer. Turn off the TV. Shut the laptop. Then do something that soothes you, such as:

  • Meditate or pray
  • Journal in a notebook
  • Take a nap
  • Read for fun
  • Take a long shower or bath
  • Walk around the block
  • Do some yoga stretches
  • Drink a glass of water in your front yard 
  • Bake bread
  • Color 
  • Paint your nails 
  • Play with your pet

“A bubble bath isn’t going to end this pandemic, but it may allow your body just enough relaxation to save some energy to do it all again tomorrow,” Sturges adds. Take some time to draw, write, or get yourself some fun adult coloring books to take your mind off of all the daily stress.

2. Engage in hobbies

“Allow yourself to take the time to do something you enjoy, but don’t normally have time or space to do,” Sturges suggests. Just because you work from home now doesn’t mean that’s all you should do with your time. Making time for your hobbies is a great way to practice self-care and reduce stress levels. Plant a garden. Try new cooking styles and fresh recipes. Pick up that sweater you started to knit two winters ago. Paint a mural on your bedroom wall. Need some supplies? Art and craft stores like Michael’s and JoAnne’s are delivering. Home Depot has you covered for home, landscaping and garden projects. And, of course, there’s always Amazon. 

How about trying some new recipes inspired by Hunger Games, such as Peeta’s Sweet Breakfast Rolls or Prim’s Hearty Beef Stew? Get the cookbook HERE in hardback or Kindle format.

3. Learn something new

Researching potential new hobbies also counts. Have you been wanting to try axe throwing? Obviously you can’t go out and do that right now, but you can research rules and techniques. Watch videos. Get creative and set up a faux axe throwing club for a fun family night. Learn a new language or to play the harmonica. Research and tackle home improvement projects or car maintenance. Learn to change the oil in your car or install shelves in your closet. Taking even an hour a day to focus on a new skill will help you from becoming consumed with work responsibilities and anxiety about COVID-19.

4. Take brain breaks

Sturges advises her clients to take breaks to focus on simple tasks instead of getting stuck on ideas, thoughts, and emotions when their situation feels overwhelming or out of their control. Do something that requires you to concentrate so that the pandemic isn’t at the forefront of your mind for even fifteen or thirty minutes. Alphabetize the bookshelf or spice cabinet. Clean out your closet and junk drawer. Go through the basket of loose socks and find matches. Do a crossword puzzle or word search. 

Self-care doesn’t mean technology is off-limits. “Technology is a perfectly acceptable way to allow our brains a break during this high-stress time. We don’t worry about using these things as an escape unless they take away from your regular life functioning,” Sturgess says.

Use your phone for games or apps that take your mind off your worries. Watching something fun on Netflix or having a living room dance party. “Music can be extremely healing,” Sturges adds. “It can relax your or cheer you up. Make playlists for different moods (or just find playlists that others have made on your streaming service).” 

5. Lean on your support network

Even though we’re practicing social distance, we still really need the support, encouragement, and companionship of other people. Call friends and family to catch up and check-in. Start an online support group with virtual meetings with other teachers. Plan a virtual game night with your friends after the kids go to bed. Pick a popular game many people have or can easily order. For example, get Cards Against Humanity HERE.

 6. Get professional help

It’s okay if you feel completely overwhelmed, unable to manage your anxiety, very sad or anything else. “Be honest about your feelings, and ask for extra help if you need it,” Sturges advices. Many mental health providers are offering phone and video services. The Crisis Textline has counselors available to help immediately if you text HOME to 741741. 

Teachers may be working from home, but are very much still on the frontlines of the COVI-19 crisis. Check on the teachers in your life. Ask how you can help. Listen to their frustrations. Maybe have a care package delivered to their door. 

Hang in there, teachers. We love you, we appreciate you, we need you. Thank you for all the hard work you’re doing to keep our kids learning and feeling a sense of normalcy during this unsettling time. It’s not selfish to focus on your own needs. 

Also Read:

Teachers, Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourselves During These Stressful Times

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed., an editor at Bored Teachers, is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She's been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga. Connect with her at rachael.m@boredteachers.com
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