Forget the elves & Christmas fairies, the real heroes of Christmas are the teachers & school staff! They may not be featured heavily in typical Christmas movies but I see you! I acknowledge your daily mounting workload, the extra rehearsals, the overtime spent on elaborate displays, the strain on your voice as you try to contain the building excitement of 30+ buzzing children!
Teachers aren’t told enough how important they are. Most people can make an impact on a group of other people’s lives over their lifetime. For teachers, they impact thousands of lives! I love this quote….
So firstly, let’s acknowledge how important you are. For you to keep up your incredible work it’s paramount that you take care of you. It’s not selfish, it’s smart & loving. You are the container for many children (& parents sometimes too). If you have not kept your own needs met, it’s not possible to be there fully for others. My belief is " you can't pour from an empty cup" so fill up your own cup! (it's also the meaning behind the name. I'm all about empowering people young & old to fill up their own cups so that they can give more to others. And so the world is a better place. I digress!)
SO… with this in mind, I hope you can add at least one of these tips to boost your self care this holiday season. You’re so close. You’ve got this!
1. Drink honey water
For a first few years of teaching I just could not last the first term of school without losing my voice. I was left with only a painful whisper when I visited family. Not fun. That was until I discovered the joy of Hot honey water. Manuka honey is even better with anti bacterial qualities. Voice strain is an occupational hazard, take regular sips of this balmy drink in a hot flask.
2. How can I make this fun & playful?
There can be a lot of things that you feel like you HAVE to do but you really don’t enjoy doing around this time of year. All the school traditions (on top of new initiatives EACH YEAR!). If you can’t say no, ask yourself, “how can make this fun & playful?” or “How can I turn it into a game?”. If you need inspiration look no further than the students! Work & play don’t have to be separate. I see play as a mindset and a very healthy one at that!
3. What's going well? What am I thankful for?
At this time of year it can be easy to get carried away with what’s left to do and what’s not going well (especially with endless school performance rehearsals!) but this shift in your way of thinking towards spotting the positives can have a great impact. One that others around you including the children will pick up on giving you more reasons to be thankful for. If the people you work with tend to be of the more critical mindset I know this can be tough but your postivity can be infectious and in the meantime it’s a nicer way to live.
4. Step up the hugs!
Get (consenual!) hugs wherever you can! Partner, colleague, puppy, teddy bear! Hugs help lower stress hormones in the body and boost feel good oxytocin. Top up your levels of feel good cup! Recharge yourself.
5. Non negotiable self care time.
When I was working as a teacher and trainee play therapist I had to be very strategic with my time. If I wasn’t careful, it was easy to burn out and turn into a snappy dragon. Not so fun for loved ones to be around 😔
So I initiated Self care Wednesdays and never looked back! This time I protected like a specialist doctors appointment. You can schedule a weekly relaxing yoga class, massage, dinner out with loved one, whatever is nourishing for you. Making it weekly and non negotiable meant I didn’t have to actively schedule it which takes time and can face resistance. It also meant I could manage the Tuesday stresses better knowing that self care wednesday was close!
6. Therapist in the cupboard (or under the desk)!
A classic! When you’re in the heat of the moment and you just need to release, turn to your friendly therapist in the cupboard! Have a cupboard that you can go to. Imagine your therapist is in there and make whatever facial expressions or words under your breath that you want away from the children! Close the cupboard, turn around, Game face back on! You can even put a peaceful picture on the inside cupboard door to do some deep breathes with! Doing this may also make you chuckle at yourself which is another great stress reliever!
If there’s a particular child that is trying your patience or draining your resources it’s likely they also need a therapist in a cupboard or even better in a playroom. Take action to refer them to your school counsellor or nearby registered play therapist will help you, them and the rest of the class. "The children who need love the most often ask for love in the most unloving ways”. You shouldn’t have to support a child with high needs on your own. Get a team together.
So there are my six quick tips to keep you going through the rest of this term. You’re nearly there!
Which trick is your favourite? Which one will you try?
If you’re a teacher, school counsellor or therapist please share your tips for surviving this long term each year! Your comment could reach someone who really needs to see it!
Playful Festive wishes!