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Let’s level here: October was difficult for me. I am not entirely sure what it was, but it just felt like a struggle every. Single. Day. That doesn’t mean that every day was bad, but it means I had to be super intentional about getting things done and having the right mindset. I had to be really intentional about my self care. And there were still some day where it just wasn’t happening.
Yup, Becca, who always advocates that morning routine slept in multiple times in October.
But you know what? I have faith that November will be better. Not just because we have Thanksgiving break soon, but because I learned a lot about my self care needs while going through the ridiculousness of October.
Side note, did anyone else think that it dragged on forever?
Here are some super simple ideas for self care that you can implement immediately. I’m not suggesting anything crazy. Seriously, super simple. Try them. Then let us know in the comments if they were helpful for you!
Also, if you are interested in getting access to exclusive free resources, sign up for my resource library! I send out two email a month– usually talking about some of the free resources available. Once you get access, you can download as many things as you– and more resources are added every few weeks. Sign up here!
Leave School at School
First thing is first—leave school at school. Now, I’m not saying you have to leave as soon as the bell rings. I’m saying, don’t bring home a ton of work.
What that says is: you will never escape the work.
And what happens 90% of the time? You bring it home with the intention to work on grading papers while you watch TV. But then you realize at home you have 50 other things to do, so that doesn’t happen. You take the papers back to school tomorrow feeling guilty and ashamed.
A better alternative? Stay a few minutes extra and then leave it at school. I talk about grading hacks in this video if you need some ideas how when to get them done.
But seriously—when you go home, GO HOME.
Now, I will admit, I do often make resources at home. But that is mostly because I am putting them into my TPT shop, so I don’t want to work on them at school, even if they are for school as well.
TAKE YOUR LUNCH BREAK
This is one of the best pieces of advice about self care that I can give you. It’s also one of the things I am the WORST at.
Take your lunch break.
I’ll say it again and let it sink in: take your lunch break.
I know you have 50 thousand things to do. I do too. And every day at lunch I start thinking, I need to do this and this and this.
And then I stop myself and say: take your lunch break.
It really does help. When I take a break at lunch, I feel refreshed and ready to go rather then frustrated and annoyed.
Legistically, how do I accomplish this without shirking my responsibilities?
Normally, I will check my email (I don’t even respond during lunch—just look and see what is in there). If something is urgent I’ll respond, otherwise I leave them unread. Then I look at my to do list and make sure there is nothing that needs to be done prior to my next class (copies or setting out instruments). If I need to call a parent, I will. Otherwise, I leave everything for my planning or after school.
It feels weird. I used to work through lunch every single day. But I promise, it makes a difference. Even if you only take half of your lunch as a break, do it.
Also read: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching
Have an activity to get your mind off of school
So once you have left school at school, now what? Do you get home frustrated and annoyed? Still thinking about testing and study guides?
As soon as you get home—or on your way home—find a way to get your mind off of school. Sit down, because you have not sat down all day, and just chill out for a few minutes.
For me, this has been reading. When I get home, I make myself some tea and a snack, and I read. My goal is 30 minutes, but sometimes it’s only 10 or 15, and that’s ok. The point really isn’t the reading. The point is to calm down, sit down, and think about things that are not school.
Admitedly, sometimes the books are school related, but still.
Take a bath
This is probably my favorite one—take a bath. Or a hot shower. But seriously—try a bath. Get some Epson salts and bubble bath (you cannot go wrong with my personal favorites right here! They are made for relaxing!) and soak for a little bit. This really does help your body to feel better and help your mind.
Bonus points if you read a book in there.
Which leads me to my next point…
Read a book
You tell your students to read, but when is the last time you read a book that was not education related? When is the last time that you read for fun?
I have been really intentional about getting my reading in (see above for when that happens), and it has made a huge difference. I am learning more and I know even if my day is crappy, I have 15 minutes where I get to read before I have to clean or make dinner or any of that mess. It’s great.
Need a new book? Here are a ton of book recommendations!
A few that I just finished and would highly recommend include The Alchemist, The Odyssey, and I am currently reading Circe, and it is really great so far. I cannot put it down.
Play some music
Upon reflection, that looks like you should put on Pandora. Now, that is actually a good idea, but not what I am meaning.
Pick up an instrument.
If you are a music teacher, when is the last time that you played music? I know that seems like a crazy concept.
I had a thought halfway through last year that went along the lines of this: I used to sing for about 2 hours a day. Then I would play piano and cello. And I haven’t practiced anything for months.
That realization was truly eye opening.
Now I plan to practice at least 2-3 times a week. Technically, I have it written down for every day but that doesn’t always happen. After reading, I turn on my keyboard, warm myself up, and flip to the next book in my Gabriel Faure songbook (because who doesn’t love a good French art song?).
It has been really great for me to get back to learning music that wasn’t pentatonic. Not that there is anything wrong with that—I enjoy it, which is why I teach elementary music. But I also enjoy learning difficult arias and art songs. It may take me two months to learn a song I could have previously learned in two weeks, but at least I’m still doing it.
I read a quote on Instagram lately that was something along the lines of, “How can we inspire students to read when we don’t enjoy reading anymore?” I really think the same thing is true for music teachers—we can’t inspire students to love music if we are not actively trying to improve out musicality.
So there are a few easy ways to incorporate some self care into your routine! I’ve get ideas for school and outside of school.
Also read: Elementary Music Classroom Tour
You know what else is great self care? Signing up for access to my free resource library so that you can download things instead of making them! There are different resources available, including a music interest survey and a steady beat chart (in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4). Once you get access to the exclusive content, you can keep coming back and downloading more! I add new resources every few weeks! Sign up here!
Now I’m curious, what do you do for self care? Let us know in the comments!