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Teachers Are Drowning And Pushing Self-care Doesn’t Solve The Actual Problem


Teachers Are Drowning And Pushing Self-care Doesn't Solve The Actual Problem

The world is really pushing self-care for teachers. Internet headlines urge teachers to take care of themselves. We get daily emails from the district advocating for self-care. Admins pop in to tell us to take care of ourselves. We’re told to remember, “You can’t fill from an empty cup” and “put our own oxygen mask on first.” Some schools have even arranged professional development opportunities on teacher self-care. It’s a nice sentiment, but all it’s really doing is adding to teachers feeling stressed and overwhelmed. 

STOP telling teachers to:

1. Pamper ourselves

There’s no energy left after caring for everyone else.

Who doesn’t love a glass of wine in a candlelit bubble bath? However, we wouldn’t be able to relax with all the worries and responsibilities swirling around our heads. Also, we’re working from the crack of dawn until we can’t keep our eyes open a second longer. So fire and water are a dangerous combination for teachers right now. 

2. Indulge in spa treatments

With what time and money?

Massages and pedicures sound heavenly. But they take time, energy, and money. Those things are in short supply for teachers more than ever right now. Plus, there’s a pandemic going on, so most teachers are social distancing as much as possible because there are no subs to cover our classes if we’re sick. 

3. Find our zen

There aren’t enough hours in the day to meditate our stress away.

Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, journaling. These are luxuries for people who have time to set aside for themselves. Teachers aren’t getting nearly enough sleep and you want us to set our clocks half an hour earlier to meditate before we start the day? Oh, make it part of the daily routine and do it with our students? No one should see their teacher sobbing while journaling about how overwhelmed they are or snoring because they passed out during five minutes of guided meditation. 

4. Take better care of our bodies

Survival mode is all we have time and energy to do.

Eat healthily. Hydrate. Take your vitamins. Exercise daily. Get more sleep. Um…when? How? Is there a vitamin to magically give us the time and energy to take better care of ourselves?

5. Go to therapy

We already know a toxic work environment is causing our stress.

It’s pretty messed up that our jobs are so overwhelming and stressful therapy is frequently suggested to help us deal with it. Therapy is often extremely helpful for a variety of circumstances. However, it also is one more thing to try to fit into our budgets and schedules when what we really need is more professional support. Instead of asking us to learn how to cope with a toxic environment, how about changing the environment?

6. Use self-care products

We need more help than herbal tea and essential oils can provide.

Some teachers are receiving gifts from lovely people concerned about teacher self-care. It’s obvious to everyone teachers are struggling and our family, friends, and students and their parents want to help. However, no amount of coffee gift cards, chocolate, candle sets, or hot tea is going to do the trick right now. What do we really need? Sleep. To feel safe and supported at work. Permission to only work our contract hours without guilt. So much less piled on our plates. (But we so appreciate and are very thankful for the gifts.)

There is no time for teacher self-care right now. Bombarding us with suggestions and strategies to take care of ourselves is just using up precious time and energy we don’t have. Stop putting the blame for teachers being exhausted, overworked, and overwhelmed on us not taking care of ourselves. Instead, support teachers by lessening our workloads and responsibilities so we’re able to take that bubble bath and nap we keep hearing about.

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Teachers Are Drowning And Pushing Self-care Doesn't Solve The Actual Problem

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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 [email protected]
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