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Whether we’re talking about your students or your actual children, taking care of them is hard work! Being a parent is probably the most exhausting and thankless job on the planet, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and joy-filled. As a teacher, you probably experience a lot of the same emotions and challenges as parents, just in a different way. Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, you know you need to be there for your kids, and this starts with taking care of yourself. After all, if you’re sick and miserable, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else or help anyone else grow and succeed. You need to prioritize your self-care so that you can handle all your responsibilities and serve those around you. Here are some top tips to take care of yourself and the significant impact they can have.
Take Care of Your Body
You’ve probably heard this again and again, but taking care of your physical body is absolutely vital in being able to care for others. This means eating healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks, as well as drinking enough water. Don’t be so self-sacrificial that you don’t feed your body enough nutrients on a daily basis, and make sure you’re actually eating multiple meals a day. As a parent, it’s easy to forget to eat meals sometimes—it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Be sure to have healthy snacks with you in case you get in a pinch, and be sure to refill your water cup or water bottle several times a day. You also need to be sure you’re staying active. Getting enough exercise can be challenging when you have a super busy schedule, but it’s vital to your physical health and the health and wellness of those around you.
Take Care of Your Mind
Mental health is incredibly important, especially as a caretaker of others, and it’s extremely important to take care of your mind. When you’re constantly caring for others, whether in your home or in a classroom, it can be easy to get bogged down with frustrations, exhaustion, and mental fog. Taking care of your mind may look different for each individual, but it may involve meditation, talk therapy, mindfulness exercises, and more. Be sure to talk through any issues you are facing in the classroom or at home, and know that you are not alone in many of your feelings. Take care of your mental health so that you can continue to provide care, love, and support to your kids.
Learn How to Prioritize
A big part of taking care of yourself is knowing how to manage your time and prioritize what you need and want to do. Obviously, certain tasks need to get done at certain times, but knowing that some tasks aren’t as important as others will be hugely beneficial for your health and mindset. Do your best to keep things in perspective. Some things may seem really important in a particular moment, but try to look at the big picture and how important each thing is in the grand scheme. Learning how to manage your time effectively and prioritize will help you to feel less stressed and more confident in your decisions, making you healthier and happier.
Be Okay With Saying “No”
Saying “no” can be incredibly hard for some people, but it’s an important part of taking care of yourself. If you’re overworked, overcommitted, and run down all the time, no one wins. This goes along with prioritizing to some extent, where you know what things are the most important and what actually requires your time and energy. This may mean turning down some fun events or activities, or it may mean turning down an extra responsibility at work or in another leadership role you have so that you can focus on your own health and your primary responsibilities. Know that you saying “no” isn’t a personal attack on someone else and that most people don’t take it personally, so you shouldn’t feel guilty or bad for saying “no” when you know it’s best for you and your kids.
Ask for Help When You Need It
If you’re a working parent or have an enormous pile of work to do from teaching, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not only will this lower your stress levels, but it will help you get your responsibilities taken care of faster and more effectively so that you can relax more. This may mean asking a spouse, child, or coworker to take on some extra responsibilities, or it may mean asking for an extended deadline on a particular project. Recognizing when you need help and then taking steps to get that assistance will benefit you and your kids.
Be Introspective & Self-Aware
Positivity is important in all aspects of life, but self-awareness and introspection may be just as important. Being aware of your feelings and struggles will help you take actionable steps to overcome problems and find peace in the midst of a chaotic life. Allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts and be introspective. If you’re upset about something, give yourself time to think about and really process why it made you upset, and then take steps to resolve it appropriately. Being self-aware will help you work your way through challenging times, ask for help when you need it, and handle life with all its ups and downs more effectively.
Be Patient with Yourself
Patience is a very important part of taking care of yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t get things done or when you are struggling to handle life perfectly. Try your best and don’t give up on everything that comes your way, but also understand that you’re not perfect. Give yourself grace and be patient with yourself, and you will always succeed in taking care of yourself and your kids.