For educators, the sense of pride in seeing students overcome their roadblocks and achieve their goals is impossible to measure. Teaching can be one of the most emotionally rewarding careers but, It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of the job. You may end up giving too much of yourself and suddenly the wins aren’t as rewarding and you might feel jaded or frustrated. In this post, we’ll explore some tips and strategies for avoiding educator burnout so you can continue to thrive in your role.
Self-Care Tips for Preventing Burnout
Educators are not only constantly giving their time to others (students, parents, and their communities) but also face a lot of criticism from the public. It’s easy to forget about yourself in the process, and only hear the negative. It’s those moments when an educator must begin prioritizing their own self-care. Here are a few ideas to jumpstart manifesting your own happiness:
- Prioritize sleep
- The World Health Organization states that burnout is the result of facing repetitive, stressful situations on a daily basis. Getting enough sleep is proven to assist with the regulation of emotions.
- Make time for hobbies
- Teachers are constantly thinking of classroom activities to help break up the monotony of the school day and increase student enjoyment. It’s important that educators do the same for themselves throughout the workweek. Even if its just 30 minutes to read or play video games (students aren’t the only ones that enjoy gaming after all!).
- Exercise regularly
- Physical activity will enable the body to create the chemicals necessary to boost an overall sense of happiness and pride. It also counteracts the hormones that create stress. If you’re not usually someone who enjoys exercise, try and use that time to do something that interests you! Want to get outside more? Go for a run in a green space, and use the workout as a time to listen to a new album or podcast episode you’ve been wanting to hear.
- Plan healthy & exciting meals
- Making conscious choices with meals can vastly improve an individual’s ability to handle and process stress. To reduce stress most nutritionists recommend including some type of complex carbs such as pasta, wholegrain bread, or rice. Missing out on these carbs can lead to low blood sugar and energy levels and an increase in stress and frustration.
At the end of the day, self-care isn’t selfish. If anything you should consider it as doing a service for those around you since when you show up for yourself you’re able to show up for others more effectively.
It can be difficult to set boundaries between work and personal life due to the immense workload educators face. However, these boundaries are essential for preventing burnout and ensuring long-term happiness.
First, begin by setting specific working hours. Having nebulous, inconsistent working hours (even after the school day) can lead to a lack of stability. Knowing when your day is over and leaving any and all work-related matters within those boundaries is vital. Next, ensure that you don’t commit to any extra activities at work that aren’t related to your priorities. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lend the occasional hand but knowing what is and isn’t within the confines of your job description is huge for maintaining a sense of self-respect and will help you to avoid spreading yourself too thin.
Lastly, take breaks when you can during the day! If you don’t have that time make sure you advocate for yourself and make it possible. Having even 15-20 minutes can be a big help in ensuring that you are still one of your priorities along with your students.
Remember, setting boundaries is not only important for your own well-being, but it can also set a positive example for your students and colleagues.
Having a variety of support systems is an absolute necessity when it comes to weathering concerns and other frustrations while on the job. The support of your friends and family is wonderful but, establishing connections with other mental health professionals, organizations, and individuals involved with your field is key to keeping your head above water. Here are some of our best suggestions for finding that support.
- Connect with other educators in your school or district
- Find an online community related to your field
- Seek out a therapist or career coach
- Attend conferences or professional development opportunities
In addition to these suggestions, TeachForAmerica has an excellent collection of self-care and burnout avoidance resources, definitely check these out. Having a support system can make all the difference in your ability to thrive as an educator.
As much as we’d like to have stress-free lives, that likely isn’t the case for educators. Moments that cause frustration throughout the school day are going to happen. It can be easy to forget about the wins but, it’s important that you spend more mental space thinking about the wins instead of focusing on the losses.
One great way to think about it is like this: your total workday is about 8-9 hours in length on average. The frustrating moments usually last anywhere around 10-30 minutes. While these moments are unfortunate, they actually make up a tiny percentage of your day. Choosing to focus on the 7.5-8 hours that actually went well instead of the small fraction that didn’t can make a world of difference.
Also, spend time celebrating student growth, connections, and happiness. You have played a major role in their wins and recognizing that isn’t selfish, nor is it braggadocious. It’s simply acknowledging the successes you’ve earned through your hard-earned skills and passion.
Burnout Prevention and Care
Teaching is a challenging profession, but with the right tools and strategies, you can avoid burnout and find joy in your achievements as you guide students toward their own achievements. Remember to prioritize self-care, set boundaries, find support, and celebrate wins along the way because you’re worth it and you always have been.
Interested in more educator tips? Follow the Numerade blog for additional educational resources and information.