Teaching Tuesday: Summer Self-Care for Teachers

By Dr. Alicia Kozimor, GCU Faculty

Teacher relaxing and taking care of mental health

We know that teaching can be a rewarding in many ways; however, teaching is also a demanding profession. Teachers are responsible for the academic well-being of students, but also must be reliable for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their students. Throughout the school year, we as teachers work tirelessly to make sure students receive quality instruction and effective learning experiences. Now that it is summer, it’s time for some teacher self-care!

Benefits of Self-Care

Self-care is not allowing yourself to indulge or be selfish. Self-care is just that: taking care of yourself. When practicing self-care, a teacher is ensuring that they are mentally and physically well so they can be an effective sibling, child, parent and educator. Effective self-care promotes resilience, better stress management, and living longer. There are numerous ways teachers can participate in self-care so that their minds and bodies are nourished and strong. Below are three tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Move Your Body

Physical health and mental health are completely connected. During the pandemic, it seemed teacher exercise and movement was up. As teachers were working from home and teaching online, there was less time to commute to school and more time to move. As most schools have returned to in-person instruction, teacher exercise is slowing down.

Summer is a great season to focus on physical health with the extra benefit of increasing mental health. Just 30 minutes a day of exercise and movement can have incredible benefits. Exercise can be as simple as taking a 30-minute walk through the neighborhood, practicing yoga and meditation, joining a gym and attending group fitness classes. Through consistent exercise, the body is able to release stress and tension, and the mind can become clear. Exercise also helps the body to be strong enough to fight off germs and illnesses, which is something teachers can always benefit from!

Tip #2: Disconnect

Another tip for practicing self-care is to do a digital disconnect. A digital disconnect could come in the form of less screen time, spending less time on social media, or both. By doing so, there are physical and social benefits to be found. Less time looking at a screen naturally leads to less time sitting, and less snacking! Sitting in front of a screen, when accompanied by unhealthy (although delicious) snacks, can lead to weight gain and other health complications such as high blood pressure and obesity. By moving away from the screen, you will naturally have more time to move your body. There are added social benefits to less screen time as well; for example, there is more time to spend time with family and friends.

A digital disconnect from social media also benefits mental health. There are numerous benefits, such as greater self-awareness, increased self-esteem and increased attention span. By making an intentional effort to spend less time scrolling, it can become apparent how much time is spent on social media. This increased awareness can lead to an intentional change in how time is spent and to increased productivity. Increased attention spans are an added benefit of less social media time. As the brain gets used to the scrolling aspects of social media, the attention span adjusts to the quick change of interest. Decreased scrolling will lead to an increased attention span.

Tip #3: Do Something Just for Fun

As teachers, we juggle a lot for our roles and responsibilities in the classrooms and for the students. Self-care for teachers should involve doing something fun that fills the soul. Take a moment to step away from grading and planning and do something for yourself. Reading a book for fun or spending time outside are beneficial to giving the brain a time to relax and recuperate. When a teacher has a strong balance between their home/social life and professional life, they are more prepared to take on the daily challenges of being an educator. A strong heart and mind are necessary components of being an effective educator, so a focus on balance and fun are of the upmost importance!

Summer is a special time to celebrate a job well done from the previous year and prepare for the new school year. As we prepare lesson plans and activities for the coming year, we must also ensure we prepare ourselves for the demands the year will bring. We should practice self-care during these precious summer months to ensure we are rested and ready to continue changing the world come fall.

Want more? Check out all of the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. Learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education and our degree programs and join in our efforts to elevate the education profession. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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