Dear Future Teachers,
We know this school year is going to look like no other year before. Many schools are opting to do partial or full online schooling for K-12 students. Trust me, I despise a day full of Zoom meetings as much as you. I strongly empathize with all the hardworking teachers who will tackle the task of online teaching within the next few weeks. This year, teaching may feel inconvenient, difficult, and exhausting, so I wanted to emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself throughout the process! These 5 self-care tips apply to teachers, as well as students, who will be heavily involved in online education this year! #selfcare
1. Set up your designated work space and stick with it!
Working from home can become tedious, or you may feel less productive in a space where you are supposed to be able to decompress after a day of work. It's easy to get distracted by chores or other people in your home, so it's important that you set up a space solely meant for work! If you're able to, get a desk and place it somewhere free of distraction. Decorate and organize it the way that you want, creating a productive atmosphere. Personally, I work better in a place with a lot of natural lighting, and I'll add some small plants or candles to make my working area as comfy as I can. Find what works for you, and make sure to leave work in your work space!
2. Take a break from the screen!
I wear contacts and glasses, and ever since I started college and began using my laptop more, I've noticed that my eyes feel drier and sometimes I'll even get headaches. Teaching/learning online basically forces you to stare at your screen for extended periods of time, but I recommend taking several breaks throughout the day to give your eyes a rest. If you wear contacts, eye drops can help, or even switching into your glasses after a few hours to let your eyes breathe. Other ways to rest your eyes would be to take a few moments to look around your room, away from the screen (not at your phone!), and blink/close your eyes. Even a minute of looking away from your screen can help make your eyes feel less strained; get in the habit of resting a few times a day! Some people recommend getting blue light blocking glasses (although I'm not sure how effective they are due to lack of research), but that is 100% up to what you feel is best for you!
3. Build in time to go outside, stretch, and exercise!
During online lessons, you're no longer moving around the room or walking through the hallways. Working from home can lead to a sedentary pattern, so I recommend scheduling time for stretching, taking a walk, or spending a few minutes outside in fresh air. Taking a break from your seated position can get your blood flowing and re-energize you for the remainder of the work day. It can be super uncomfortable to be hunched in front of a screen all day. Schedule time once or twice a day to move around; your body and mind will thank you later!
4. Check in with yourself!
It's normal to feel fatigued in a truly traumatic time in our lives. We're literally living through a pandemic! Many lives have been disrupted and altered, it's okay to not feel you best! It's normal and even healthy to not feel okay right now! You don't have to be a superhero who never tires; you're human and this situation is taking a toll on you in some form or another. Every day, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What do you think you need to get you through the day? Is there a specific source your feelings are tied to? What can you control and what is more out of your control? Recognize and name your feelings and explore what can help you work through any negative emotions.
5. Find an anchoring activity!
As someone with anxiety, I find it beneficial to have an anchoring activity. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed or my thoughts feel muddled, and it can be unnerving, contributing to stress and tension. Some suggestions I have for anchoring activities are: Go for a walk/run, listen to your favorite music, read a book, journal, talk with a friend/family member, take a warm bath, meditate, stretch, practice breathing exercises, etc. Find an activity that isn't productive or part of your to-do list, rather it's something to let your mind relax and release negative energy. Choosing a consistent self-care exercise to bring you back down to earth and calm your spirit can be rejuvenating and refreshing. Find your anchor!
This year is going to be a little scary and overwhelming, so it's vital that we take care of ourselves! I'm dreading online classes, but at the end of the day, the situation is out of our control. What IS in our control however is how we take care of ourselves. It will be difficult, and I know many of you prefer to be in class with your kiddos, but you can get through it! The best way to help your students through a challenging year is to take care of yourself! Practice self-care and love on yourself as much as possible. If you have any more self-care tips that you would like to share, send them in through my contact form on my home page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!