7 Easy Self-Care Tips for Special Education Teachers

Sunday, October 15, 2017

  Being a Special Education teacher can be just as rewarding as it is stressful. Writing IEPs, co-planning with the General Education teachers, chasing after students with severe behavioral problems, and managing your personal life can be overwhelming. At my school, we have been following the 7 principles of the "Leader In Me" series which teaches kids core values such as managing your time and handling your priorities. One of the principles that both kids and adults tend to not do as often is "Sharpening Your Saw" which means that as a teacher or student, you should take the time to decompress and re-energize daily.

    Unfortunately, many teachers and students can become burned out to the point of becoming physically ill and emotionally drained if they do not learn how to include self-care within their daily routine. Self-care and well being is not always hidden within an expensive yoga class or scented candles. You can include these 7 easy ways to help you stop, think, and decompress.

1. Journal - Writing down what has transpired throughout the day can be quite calming. This is a way to get your frustrations and anxieties out in a positive way. You do not have to write in your journal every single day but it is a great way to show proof of progress through your career and daily life.

2. Take Slow, Deep Breaths - You can do this basically anywhere and it's quite calming. If you feel frustrated or anxious, take three slow deep breaths consecutively. Try to focus on your breathing only and clear your head of all other distractions. Deep breathing has been proven to lower stress levels and blood pressure.

3. Walk - After a rough week with my middle schoolers, I've found that walking quietly in either a park or a neighborhood can be stress relieving. Try not to use your phone at all. Just walk and take in your surroundings. Look at all the details of the trees, plants, and buildings you pass by. You should literally stop and smell the roses as you walk. Try to remain in the moment and focus on what you are thankful for. This is also great exercise and we could all use more exercise.

4. Get a Full 8 Hours of Sleep - I know that some nights are harder than others to get a good night's rest if you have children, are lesson planning, or attending to other obligations but you MUST sleep. Sleep allows the body to recharge and allow you to actually be productive the next day so DO NOT deprive your body of rest on purpose. Unfortunately, illness and stress can become further exacerbated without allowing your body to fully rest.

5. Buy A Small Item You Like - Whether it's a small candy bar for the week or a book that you've been waiting to read, purchase something that makes you feel good every once in a while. You should treat yourself and remember that you do deserve a moment of joy every now and then.

6. Sing - Whether it's in the car or in the shower, sing out loud to one of your favorite songs. No, you do not have to have the voice of an R&B diva or even remember all the lyrics. Just sing. Singing to your favorite song helps to lower your blood pressure and brings you back to a vulnerable place. Remember how happy you were when you sang silly songs as a child? The same works for your grown-up self too.

7. Text, Call, or Email a Friend/Family Member - When you're under a lot of stress, it's very easy to fall under the radar and forget that you still have people that are there for you. Don't forget about those who are close to you for weeks to months at a time. Text or call to say "Hi". We are social creatures and we feed off of interaction with others. I find that when I call my mom to talk about a stressful portion of my day, I automatically begin to feel better by hearing someone else's opinion.

8. Laugh - Laughter not only feels good but it lower stress levels tremendously. Listen to a funny podcast, a comedian, a lighthearted book, or even at a hilarious thing one of your students said that day. Try not to take life too seriously. Sometimes I find it less stressful to poke fun at my mishaps throughout the day instead of fretting about them.

Happy Teaching!

If you're interested in teaching resources for your special education students, visit my Teacher Pay Teachers store. 

I have the following resources available:

-Essay Maps
-Social Stories
-Project Based Learning Assignments

And more!

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