It’s so easy to ignore personal health as a teacher. It’s so easy to feel too tired, or too busy, to take care of yourself. Considering that, I’ve made a “self-care checklist.” I try to do one thing for myself from each category, daily, to take care of myself.
- Meditate. I try to meditate daily, in the mornings. There isn’t a ton of research about meditation (at least, not credited research the way we think of it in the West), but the research that is there suggests you’ll benefit the most from it if you meditate between 5-10 minutes a day.
- Write in a journal. Vent, reflect, do whatever you’ve got to do.
- Laugh. Watch a stand-up comedy, listen to a funny podcast, laugh with your friends.
- Call a friend. Real communication helps with stress immensely.
- Go all out on a “personal night.” face mask, wine, favorite movie, whatever it is. Spend the night relaxing.
- Go out. Get out of the house. Seriously. Depending on what you need, it may not be a night at home alone, but a night with friends.
- Take a walk outside. Sometimes, I’m so stressed after work that I need a physical separation between my hours at work and my hours at home. Walking for 15-20 minutes helps with that.
- Exercise. Anything, really, helps you when you’re stressed. I love running, biking, lifting weights, and yoga. (Generally, my rule is that when I really don’t feel like working out, I have to work out that day.)
- Spend time in nature. A growing amount of research suggests that spending time in nature – even an hour or two a week – helps lower anxiety, stress, and depression. Take a hike.
- Eat healthy. This is one I struggle with frequently, but it is incredibly important. The food you eat can drastically impact your mentality, and the healthier you eat, the healthier your mind and body become.
One of the habits that improved my mental health, generally, during my first year of teaching was when I began giving myself regular “check-ups.” I started to become more conscious of my behaviors and thought patterns as they related to my health. I began paying attention to the signals my body sent me, trying to figure out what I needed most on different days. I tried as many different ways to be healthy and to lower my stress level, but I focused heavily on physical health because I knew how much it could affect my mental health.