December has some of the most stress-filled days of the year for teachers. Not only are we dealing with the usual hustle and bustle of the holidays, but many of us have report cards due, PD to squeeze in before the end of the year, and kids that are so ready for holiday break. It can be difficult to find time for yourself, but it’s definitely important. So here are 12 teacher self-care ideas we should all try to make time for this month. Who’s with me?
1. Let someone else make your coffee.
Why does coffee taste better when someone else makes it? I don’t know either, but it does. Treat yourself (at least once a week) during the month of December and let someone else brew for you. You deserve it.
2. Take a few minutes to stretch (or dance).
Take a minute during your lunch break or while your class is at recess to do some stretches at your desk. Feeling bold? Put on your favorite upbeat holiday song and dance around for a bit.
3. Try essential oils in your room.
Pick something that is holiday themed or just go with something refreshing. Essential oils can actually improve your mood and that of your students.
4. Get together with friends and talk about happy things.
It feels like there’s no time, but the benefits of spending just 30 minutes laughing with friends will make the stress of the season melt away. Here’s the trick, though: Don’t vent or talk about how difficult your teaching day is. Try to talk about happy things to really lift your spirits.
5. Each day, write down three things you’re grateful for.
It won’t always be easy, but keeping a gratitude journal will help remind you of all the good things when the pre-break craziness feels overwhelming.
6. Get your students involved.
Mindfulness is good for everyone. Tell your students you’re going to take a quick, silent “field trip” around the building. They’re only job during the trip is to find one small thing that they think is beautiful and that they don’t think anyone else would notice. When you get back to the room, have them write about what they found.
7. Get a few extra winks.
Going to sleep just 10–15 minutes earlier than usual can make a huge difference in your mood at work. It might seem like you have a million, jillion things going on, but try this one. It’s pretty much guaranteed to brighten your day.
8. Remember to hydrate.
These busy days can make any teacher feel like caffeine is the unspoken sixth food group, but remember to drink water throughout the day. It can make a world of difference!
9. Try a little organization.
Sometimes all the decorations—the lights, the toys—can feel a bit … overwhelming. Give yourself some peace of mind by clearing out a small space in your classroom or on your desk. It just might bring you back a little sanity.
10. Take the long way home and enjoy the lights.
It can be depressing leaving work when it’s already (getting) dark, but taking the opportunity to see your neighbors’ holiday lights can make the drive home a festive event.
11. Do something to pamper yourself.
This will be different for everyone, but do something that you know will make you feel good. Take an extra long shower or bath. Get a mani-pedi. Put the grading aside for 30 minutes and curl up in bed with a book. Buy yourself a small gift that makes you smile.
12. Celebrate with your students.
After surviving some of the most stressful days of the school year, take some time to spread the cheer with your students. Do a fun (and easy!) craft, pass out some simple (and inexpensive!) gifts, and send them off to their holiday break with a smile.
We can do it, teachers! Just remember to take care of yourself this month!
How do you make time for teacher self-care? Please share your ideas in the comments.