Teacher Talk: Self-Care in the Summer!

How can we show up for our students if we don’t show up for ourselves? One of the ways we can do this is through self-care.

We’re excited to feature some self- care and mindfulness tips from QuaverSEL Curriculum Specialist and former second-grade teacher Megan Gardner.

Today, Megan details some simple ways to practice self-care this summer!

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Welcome to summer break!

This is a time to reflect on your school year and enjoy your time off.

However, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, among other unsettling events that are taking place in our country. This may cause you to experience bouts of anxiety, which could be the opposite of what your expectations for summer break might’ve been. Although these events are upsetting, it’s important to talk about them and your feelings, while being cognizant of how you are taking care of your mind and body. It’s okay to be upset, it’s okay to be unsure about the future, and it’s also okay to experience positivity and laughter with loved ones. 

Taking Care of Yourself

This summer, I challenge you to practice self-care and focus on your mental and physical health. We all know how the beginning of the school year can be challenging at times. Given the current state, the beginning of the school year will bring many new “firsts” for both you and your students. It is important to ensure you are taking care of yourself. Not just for you, but for your students entering a new school experience after being out of the classroom.

When I first started teaching 2nd grade, I noticed that if my personal life was bogging me down, I had a difficult time being present for my students. As hard as that is to admit, it was a reality for me, and I knew that my kiddos could feel my energy and see that I wasn’t 100%. It wasn’t fair to them. Most of my students experienced troubling times in their own home. They needed to have a sanctuary at school where they consistently felt safe, loved, and cared for.

After reflecting on this, I started taking steps to center myself by being mindful of my body language, thoughts, and coping mechanisms in times of extreme stress. Once I did this, I felt a sense of relief, even in stressful situations. I was better able to be there for my students. I recognized that self-care was not only a personal priority, but a professional obligation. When I did better by myself, I did better by my students. 

Self-Care Strategies

There are so many ways to practice self-care! Once you incorporate mindful practices into your daily routine, you’ll see a difference in how you react to stressful situations.

Here are some helpful tools that you can add to your mindful toolbox:

  • Journaling – Keep a journal and write a list of things you are grateful for. This can be a space for you to utilize positive self-talk and focus on the brighter things in your life. Likewise, this can also be a safe space to express your frustrations. If you are struggling, try to start small by writing down your favorite part of the day or one thing that made you smile.
  • Exercise – Not a marathon runner? Me neither! You can always take a stroll through your neighborhood (while being socially distant, of course) to increase those endorphins and clear your mind. Any form of exercise is healthy for both your body and mind.
  • Coloring – Whoever thinks coloring is just for kids needs to try a mindfulness coloring book. They will be hooked!

Try coloring a QuaverSEL mandala! Download these coloring sheets to try today!

  • Social Media Cleanse – Step away from social media! Trust me, you will feel SO cleansed (although it might be difficult the first time you try it!)
  • Breathe – Take time to breathe. Focus on each breath and how your body is reacting to it. It is natural for your mind to wander, but try to draw your thoughts back to your breath. Taking a minute to breathe multiple times per day will help you stay centered and focused.
  • Dance – Put on some music and dance your heart out! 
  • Calm-Down Space – Create your own ‘peace corner’ in your home, if possible. This helped my students because it was a safe, calm, quiet space for them to reflect on anything they were experiencing. It works for adults, too. 😉 
  • Happiness Jar – Fill a jar with happy experiences or thoughts you and your family come across on a daily basis. At the end of the day or the end of the week, read them aloud to remind yourself of what caused you to laugh or what put a smile on your face.
  • Laugh – You heard me, laugh! I know times are tough right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to inhibit your humorous side. 

I hope you take some of these mindful activities and add them to your routine this summer. It’s okay if you don’t practice all of them consistently. Even if you try out one of them, you’re making progress, and progress is AWESOME. 

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Megan details some self-care tips that you can practice this summer!

Try It with Your Students!

Offer your students a chance to practice mindfulness! Check out the QuaverSEL activity, “My Emotions Journal.”

This worksheet encourages students to discuss and reflect on how they’re feeling after a stressful situation.

After some reflection, students can decide if they feel better or not. If not, they can revisit questions 3-5 to brainstorm strategies to feel better.

Download the worksheet!

We would love to hear how you use this activity with your students!

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