5 Essential Self-Care Tips for Middle School Teachers

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With holidays around the corner let's talk about something important.

Teachers, it’s time to focus on yourselves.

Yes, you heard it right. In the world of giving, where teachers are natural-born givers, it’s easy to lose sight of one crucial aspect—teacher self-care.

We love to give.

We thrive on helping others—our students, our families—and that’s wonderful! But here’s the catch: amidst all this giving, if you don’t pause to nurture your own well-being, it's a slippery slope leading straight to the infamous “teachertired” zone.

Here are 5 tips that have helped me prioritize self-care during my years in the classroom.

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Tip 1: It's ok to say no!

First things first, let’s talk about boundaries.

We all know that tricky feeling when someone asks for an extra favor, and we’re torn between wanting to help and knowing we need a break.

In my earlier years of teaching, I said yes to everything.

And I burnt out quickly. It took me quite a while to grasp the importance of saying no. Permission to decline certain requests, whether it was extra supervision, volunteer work, or giving up my prep time to sub for a colleague, was a tough concept to embrace.

But here’s the truth: it’s perfectly fine to say no.

Recharging your own batteries sometimes means braving that discomfort and giving yourself permission to decline certain things.

Tip 2: Emails can wait!

In this world of constant notifications, pings, and alerts, it sometimes feels like we must drop everything to respond to emails, texts, and voicemails.

We've all felt that irresistible urge to respond instantly.

But truthfully… emails can wait!

Taking a breath, collecting your thoughts, and replying calmly after a few hours (or even waiting until the next day) can make a world of difference. Remember, you don’t need to be on call 24/7.

In fact, deleting the school email app from my phone was an important step that improved my mental health—and is so helpful for so many folks.

Lastly, before going off to a holiday break, I always set up email auto-responders with out-of-office messages!

It's okay to wait a little before pushing that “reply” button.

Tip 3: Stay Active, Stay Energized

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is an effective way to keep your energy levels soaring.

Whether it’s a morning stroll, an afternoon dance session, a workout routine, or simply moving your body a couple of times throughout the day, it always help boost my mood.

Sometimes, I would skip packing lunch and ask a fellow co-teacher to join me for a quick walk to grab a snack after school.

It’s a perfect excuse to hold each other accountable to walking, plus a perfect bonding time!

A win-win, isn’t it?

Tip 4: Connect with Adults

Speaking of bonding time—humans are social creatures, and we thrive on connections.

And sometimes, connections with a fellow adult (not just with students in my classroom), can make all the difference. Reach out to your fellow teachers, friends, and family. Sometimes, a heartfelt conversation can work wonders, reminding you that you are not alone in this journey.

Being a teacher is tough, and having a support system is critical to making it manageable.

Tip 5: Pursue Your Passions

Lastly, hobbies are a critical part of any personal support system.

Whether it's writing, painting, reading, cooking, baking, mountain biking or any other hobby, embrace your passions. These creative outlets not only provide a sense of accomplishment but also serve as a sanctuary where you can lose yourself, finding solace and joy.

Indulge in what sets your soul on fire.

Prioritize Teacher Mental Health

I hope these tips are inspiration for ways to prioritize yourself and self-care as the frenzy before the holidays sets in. You deserve this.

If you find this to be useful, join my email list for fresh tips & freebies for math teachers in Grades 5-8!

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Hi, I'm Ping!

I spent 7 years in the classroom working to make math fun and relevant in middle school, by integrating math, art, and technology. I started Congruent Math to share this all with you.

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