“One of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn was that to practice care for others, I needed to practice self-care first,” an Austin, Texas-based library specialist confided. “It was very hard to give myself permission. But it matters.”
Nobody knows caring, dedication and the power of showing up like teachers––even before the pandemic changed everything. Tasked with passing on everything from advanced calculus and systems theory to the building blocks of reading and social skills like standing in line and asking politely, teachers do so much more than just teach academic subjects: They mold students into successful members of society, often by the dint of their own energy and patience.
The weight of that responsibility can be enormous––and comes with the risk of teacher burnout, even in pre-COVID times. Advocacy group Alliance for Excellent Education found that 40-50 percent of new teachers left the profession in the first five years on the job, and 10 percent left after the first year. Given the overwhelming demands of the school year––coupled with the type-A passion that drives many professionals to the field in the first place––it’s no wonder that many teachers put work-life balance, and their own wellness, on the back burner. Or let it fall off the stove entirely.
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Why self-care matters
“Nothing gives a boost like returning to the basics,” said executive coach Amy Jen Su, co-author of Own the Room. She urges clients to make sure their basic physical needs––like eating, sleeping and exercising––are being met, as well as making sure you’re supported by trusting relationships and doing something non-work-related for fun every day, even if it’s brief. Schedule time to engage in self-care practices like doing nothing, taking naps, keeping a daily gratitude journal, and more.
Take a bit of time this summer to craft strong, healthy self-care strategies that can support you and your fellow teachers into the school year and beyond. Need places to start? A set-it-and-forget-it subscription box––delivering self-care to your door even when your to-do list is 100 items deep––is a simple, effective way to help keep your head on straight.
A little something special each month
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting a gift or thank-you card. It's important to feel seen and recognized for your hard work, and a doodle from a student or a kind comment from a colleague can brighten even the most stressful of days. So take the time to build a guaranteed pick-me-up into your calendar every month.
Designed by those who know best, Teacher Care Crate is the perfect monthly reminder for busy teachers to step back and put self-care first. Each box comes with 6-8 items, from cute home goods and décor to items that address the whole self, like bath bombs, chocolates, self-care calendars, and more.
“I intended on cancelling after just one month, but realized it's so important to do something a little extra special for myself each month,” Counselor Jessica H. noted. That little extra something helps remind you that you’re a person first, and your needs count.
Read something you love
Many educators choose teaching as a profession based on their own deep love of learning and education––but ironically, it’s all too easy to neglect that love during the school year, when lesson plans, grading, and your students’ challenges are piling up on your kitchen table.
Remember what brought you here. Take time each month to celebrate yourself as a lifelong learner and reader, too. Bustle (perhaps hubristically) offers 8 tips for making time to read during the school year, including “Set manageable goals,” “Read with friends” (the accountability helps, and the social element enlivens) and “Pick something light.”
If your TBR list isn’t already exploding, let the folks at Unplugged Book Box take the wheel. This monthly book box comes with an emphasis on self-care: In addition to a new YA or adult novel each month, boxes come with treat-yourself items like candles, tea, bath oils, and more to boost mental health and help you unplug.
Dedicate time to unwind
Sometimes, it’s best to go to the experts. Now, even professional therapists curate monthly subscription boxes to address stress and anxiety specifically.
The research-inspired TheraBox delivers a monthly therapeutic “happiness activity” as well as mindful, thoughtful, and beautiful gifts to enhance your busy life. Developed by therapists, the box includes aromatherapy, skincare products, and other lifestyle goodies. It’s the perfect monthly reminder to slow down and practice self-care.
Meanwhile, The Mental Wealth Box delivers self-care workbooks and coping strategies for anxiety or depression, depending on your box selection. Each box also comes with self-care items like luxury bath products, tea blends, essential oils, snacks and more. You know, to relax and reward yourself for, well, taking care of yourself.
Soothe the soul
Keeping a stocked classroom pantry or hot beverage stash is often the last thing on a teacher's mind and the first thing they reach for when the days get tough. Tea subscription boxes ensure the perfect cup is always within reach.
Simplicity Teas Discovery Box not only sends tea, but also promote better health through delicious teas. Available in 2 different tiers, Mini and Tea Lovers, each box delivers between 2-4 organic loose-leaf tea blends of black, green, and herbal teas, plus specific brewing instructions and a fun reusable tea infuser that brings delight when they need it most.