Self-Care for Caring Professionals (April 2017)

By: Christina Gavin, Inclusion Specialist

It has been said that those in the helping professions—teachers, psychologists, counselors, therapists, physicians—are often at risk for burnout. Teachers in particular have been known to work long hours while juggling district expectations and classroom responsibilities. A recent report indicated that teachers work on average 53 hours a week, and spend an additional 90 minutes beyond the school day on work-related duties: grading, lesson planning, making parent phone calls, providing after school help, and collaborating with peers. With all of the stacking demands and expectations, it is no wonder that many educators struggle to keep a work-life balance.

Establishing an intentional self-care routine is one of the best ways to stabilize work-life balance and ward off burnout. Stress is inevitable and will be a part of work and life, no matter what. Self-care can be the key to developing healthy habits for our physical and mental health.

If you’re feeling stress, consider trying one of the following to boost your self-care routine:

Block out specific times: Block off an hour or two each day or week that will be devoted to your self-care routine. Having a consistent time on the calendar will give you something to look forward to, and is likely to increase your work life balance.

Get Moving: Go for a hike, take an exercise class at the gym, take a walk in nature or around your neighborhood. Research has shown that walking each day can reduce stress, improve your mood, and even prevent disease.

Get Creative: Is there an activity that you enjoy but haven’t done in a while? Painting, crafts, photography, playing an instrument, sports, volunteering: these are all great ways to focus the mind away from stress and towards a positive outlet.

Address the Senses: The senses are a wonderful way to access comfort. Think: a warm cup of tea; a cozy sweater; essential oils. Playing music can calm or uplift your mood. Keep some chocolate in your desk or bag. Pick a day to change the sheets and go to bed an hour earlier for a good night’s sleep.

Mindfulness: Yoga, meditation and mindfulness have all been shown to reduce stress and improve overall health. Headspace is a free App that provides guided practice you can try for 10 minutes each day. 

Treat your self: Give yourself permission to indulge in something that will bring you joy. Caretakers often do so much for others—we can sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Whether it’s a massage, special dessert, or flowers to spruce up the room, make space to intentionally honor your happiness and well being.

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