The first article in this end-of-the-year collection focused on preparing for summer self-care by finding the small wins and reflecting on your instructional growth. The second article provided some tips on how to prepare your students for the next academic year and the summer. This third article is all about you! What are some ways that you can do self-care that is recharging and rejuvenating?
One of the hardest parts of being a teacher is that we constantly think about our students and our practices before ourselves. This is why it’s important to turn off and focus on yourself this summer. How do you occupy your free time if you’re not working? Here are some possible ideas for crafting a summer of fun.
A key step in achieving this is turning off your computer and disabling all email forwarding to your cell phone. While it may be difficult to disconnect, it can be vital to your self-care routines. Once you have disconnected from work, then what do you do?
2. Find a hobby (if you don’t have one already).
During the 2021–2022 school year, there were many self-care guides that discussed the importance of having a hobby as a strategy for care. However, these tips forgot one aspect of this suggestion: time. What teacher had time during the year to start or focus on a hobby? This is one of the pitfalls of that tip, but guess what? You have time now! If you’ve practiced all the tips in the first two articles of this collection, you should now have a bit more time to focus on yourself.
Try to take some time to start or restart a hobby. Cultivating your interests can be a way of remembering that you have an identity outside of being a teacher. If you like listening to music, maybe you can make a bedroom DJ setup or learn an instrument. Utilizing your creative mind is one way to participate in self-care. Now that you have some free time, what hobby will you start?
3. Make a memory.
This advice sounds simple, but it can be hard to do. The reason why this is a difficult self-care strategy is because it’s hard to say what counts as a memory, or rather, a worthy memory. Any experience that you enjoy can become a good memory. If you want to just sit at home and complete an adventure in a video game, that can count as a “good memory.” The only person you have to please with this memory is yourself. What is something that you have wanted to do for a long time? Once you’ve identified it—that’s a memory you can make. If you want to watch all the movies in the Star Wars saga in chronological order, go ahead and enjoy yourself. The goal of this summer is to do what makes you happy.
As you think about making a memory, remember to keep it simple. Anything can be a “good memory.” If you have a story to tell at the end of the summer, and you are proud of it, then you’ve made a great memory.
4. Try something new that is outside your comfort zone.
Teachers always tell students that growth is in the discomfort of trying something new. Summer is a great time to take this advice, so try something new. This can go back to the aforementioned tip about making a memory. Your memory does not have to be something new, but it can be a great experience to branch out and explore. This exploration can be internal or external. Maybe you’ve never gone to the gym; try it. Never gone hiking? Lace up a comfortable pair of shoes and find a good trail. Go beyond yourself. What are the adventures that you have said no to? Summer is a great time to say yes to them.
The best part of engaging in self-care this summer is that you return to the next academic year feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. You also have stories that you can use to connect with students. By taking time for self-care, you give yourself permission to grow, and you also benefit your teaching.
Remember to turn off those notifications and check out. Take care of yourself and enjoy the summer.