Self-care. Just another name for self-indulgence? I think not.
For many health and physical educators, the burnout is real.
We work a lot of hours. We don’t always get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, make time for exercise, or do enough things that make us happy.
But, taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give to your students. As you work hard to deliver the very best health and physical education program, be sure to carve out time for you each day by following these 7 self-care tips. You — and your students — deserve it.
- Breathe. Whether you choose to make time to meditate or simply practice mindfulness by taking a few deep breaths from time to time, be sure to breathe! Use your breath as an anchor to the present moment to be mindful and find gratitude. Need help? I love the apps “Breathing Zone” and “Smiling Mind” (both free downloads). Try this 4-1-5 breathing method:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold for 1 second
- Breathe out for 5 seconds
- Sleep. This one is huge. Everyone has a different sweet spot regarding the number of hours needed each night to feel refreshed and renewed for the day. Find yours and stick to it. Here’s a suggestion: Determine a time each evening — maybe 8 p.m. — to disconnect from the world. That means no more work and the cell phone gets put away to charge for the night.
- Eat well. Everyone knows that eating well makes you feel better, but it’s tough when you’re stretched on time. Take time to plan your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and cook. Whether you find that putting chicken or soup in the crockpot in the morning works best for you, or you find enjoyment in trying new recipes from Pinterest, be sure to cook and eat well.
- Be active. As health and physical educators, we know the value and importance of being active. Be sure to find time each day to move your body — even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Try changing up your exercise routine to stay motivated, and don’t forget to take time to play. Play sports, play with your kids, play with your dog, just play.
Here’s a sample 10-minute workout (no equipment) I like when I’m short on time. Complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes:
- 40 squat jumps
- 30 sit-ups
- 20 push-ups
- 10 burpees
- Call a parent. Wait, adding another thing to my to-do list is practicing self-care? Yes, call the parent of a student who does an awesome job each day and doesn’t get noticed enough for doing so. I promise that taking a few minutes to tell a parent how cool their kid is will not only totally make their day but will also renew your passion for what you do.
- Get outside. Eat your lunch outside if possible, or take a short walk outdoors. Find some nice scenery and enjoy nature if you can, even in the winter. Research shows that getting outside boosts our energy and releases endorphins to help us rejuvenate.
- Educate yourself. As teachers, we know that to get better at doing something, we need to learn more about it. So, educate yourself on self-care. Listen to a podcast while you work or walk, pick up a good book, or research ways to practice taking care of yourself. Remember, it’s not self-indulgence, it’s what both you and those around you need and deserve every day.
- SHAPE America Podcast Episode 110: Self-Care for Health & PE Professionals — Part 1
- SHAPE America Podcast Episode 111: Self-Care for Health & PE Professionals — Part 2
Lisa Rahkola is an instructor in the Physical Education Teacher Education Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Prior to working in higher education, she taught elementary physical education in Hutchinson, MN. Lisa serves on the MNSHAPE Board of Directors. Contact her on Twitter @pauls640 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.