Self-care: The A-Z list for English Teachers
Being an English teacher can be exhausting, no matter if you are a new or an experienced educator. That's why learning how to avoid burnout is so important. After all, if you don't take of yourself, you can't take care of your students. It's like trying to drive without fuel in your car. You won't go anywhere, right?
So, let's start from the very beginning. What is the first thing taught by all English teachers? The alphabet, of course. So, here's your A-Z list. Read on to find out how you can deal with stress and indulge in self-care.
A is for Acts
First of all, let's make it clear: small acts should always be at the top of your to-do list. Well, it's true that when we read the word 'self-care', we usually imagine big things such as a trip abroad. But what if we focused on simpler acts of self-care that don't require so much time, money or effort?
B is for Boundaries
When you feel stressed and overwhelmed by your schedule, the last thing you need is an extra duty or deadline. It’s true that many English teachers eventually experience burnout just because they work too hard. So, learn how to say no politely when you feel that you've been asked to do too much. Reduce your workload, set boundaries and get your priorities right.
C is for Colleagues
The people you work with on a daily basis can understand your everyday struggles and contribute to your job satisfaction. Having someone to support and encourage you is so much easier when you've built good relationships with your co-workers. If you are a private English teacher, join an online community of educators that face similar challenges and will be able to remind you that you're not alone. Well, that sense of relief when someone says 'I get it' is amazing!
D is for Decluttering
Declutter your workspace (your desk at home or your classroom). A disorganised and messy space can lead to a disorganised and messy mind. Recycle all these sheets of paper you don't need, put away those books that you use often and throw away all these things that aren't useful anymore. And put up a poster with a motivational quote. Just try it; you'll feel better, we promise!
E is for Expectations
Most teachers want to fix every little problem. We get it. But you do know that your expectations should be a little bit more reasonable, right? You can't be perfect (no one can)! And the quest for perfectionism usually leads to a sense of failure. Change your mindset and adjust your standards.
F is for Flexibility
When teaching, some days may not go according to plan. And that's OK. Be flexible, learn how to expect the unexpected and accept that something you can't predict right now may send you completely off course. Embrace unexpected challenges as new opportunities for you and your students; in this way, you won’t just be a good English teacher but also a great role model.
G is for Gratitude
Feeling grateful can help! We all know that positive reinforcement is essential. But most of us tend to focus on the negative aspects of our daily lives. So, what would happen if we constantly reminded ourselves of the things we are grateful for? For example, you could jot down a list of all these things that make you proud of your teaching strategies and methods. You could also keep some positive notes from your students in a jar or folder; and take a look at those notes every time you feel underappreciated!
H is for Hormones
Can you boost the production of feel-good hormones? Yes, you can! Serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins are your natural mood boosters. So, say yes to sunlight, exercise, meditation, a healthy diet, hugs and laughter... and increase the production of these much-needed hormones!
I is for Indulging
Take a deliberate decision to indulge in something you like and that makes you happy from time to time. Just a bar of chocolate, a shopping spree or a massage (or whatever else won't break the bank) can be the special treat you need!
J is for Journal
Have you ever kept a diary? It really feels good to write down your thoughts and feelings. And journaling is just what you need if writing can de-stress you! So, the blank pages of a journal are waiting for you!
K is for Kicking
From smoking and drinking too many cups of coffee to nail biting and hitting the snooze button too many times, we all have some bad habits that we should kick as soon as possible. We know; breaking unwanted habits can be difficult but being determined can ease the process.
L is for Laughter
Adding laughter to your day (and your ELT classroom) is great way to feel better. A fun podcast, a comedy, a laughter yoga session or just a good joke can lift your spirits instantly. So, it's true: laughter is the best (and cheapest) medicine!
M is for Music
You do know that music and singing can work wonders when it comes to stress, right? So, create a playlist that you find relaxing and uplifting... and sing your heart out! Bear in mind that while music preferences vary, classical music has been shown to help when we get the jitters.
N is for New
New teaching methods and strategies, a new certification, a new professional goal: everything that is new may reignite your passion for teaching!
O is for Organisation
English teachers who are very organised at work are always calmer - need we say more?
P is for Planning
Don't wait until the last minute to plan your lessons. For example, if you always wait till the end of the weekend to get organised, then you won't avoid the infamous Sunday blues (and you will never look forward to Mondays!). So, have your ducks in a row; plan ahead and your efforts will be rewarded!
Q is for Quiet
As a credit card ad would say, quiet time is always priceless! Find at least 5-10 minutes to get some much-needed quiet whenever you feel stressed.
R is for Routine
Self-care should not be a ritual you indulge in occasionally. It must be something you do every day. It must be something that becomes part of your routine and allows you to take daily care of yourself. It must be an everyday commitment that you make.
S is for Staycation
Taking a trip abroad and visiting exotic, far-flung places is not always easy. But what if you said yes to a staycation? Knowing when to take a bigger break and plan a weekend staycation is also beneficial, particularly when you are under so much stress that unimportant things push you over the edge. After all, even the portmanteau word 'staycation' sounds cool, doesn’t it? So, if you just need to get away from it all for a little while, that’s your new favourite English word (and habit)!
T is for Technology
Think about all the devices you use on a daily basis. In today’s world, technology has a profound effect on numerous aspects of our lives – and this includes teaching. Embrace the different ways technology can contribute to the learning process, take advantage of the E-planet e-learning platform and use the new E-planet mobile application to easily store the detailed information you need about your students, keep records of their scores, check who is using the e-learning program and keep track of online midterm and final tests. Cool, right?
U is for Unplugging
How much are you willing to truly unplug? We've all been there; when we're feeling down, we just try to distract ourselves by scrolling through social media. But let's be honest: this habit doesn't work wonders! So, stop spending so much time on social media and say yes to something more positive, like an inspirational film, an uplifting book, a feel-good podcast or an upbeat playlist.
V is for Value
If you value your mental health, don't belittle your daily efforts and start being a little kinder to yourself!
W is for World
How can 'World Days' help you to easily grab the attention of your students and make your lessons much more enjoyable? It's simple! Just take a look at our Seasonal Activities section and find out how we can help you with ready-to-use materials and active engagement activities for learners of different ages, levels and interests!
X is for X factor
Are you an English teacher who has the X factor? Well, it's easy to focus on what you do poorly. But wait a moment... Try to focus on what you do well for a change. Identify what makes you an English teacher that students like. You could even ask some of your learners or a colleague whose opinion you trust. Find those elements that make your way of teaching special. And appreciate them!
Y is for You
What helps you to feel calm instantly when you're under stress? We are all different. And that's why we calm down in different ways. There are teachers who just squeeze a stress ball. There are others that like popping bubble wrap. And there are some teachers that doodle all over textbooks and adult colouring books. Just as your students aren't exactly alike, so your ideal self-care habits and soothing activities are unique.
Z is for Zzz
Sleep when you need it! Yes, it's easier said than done, but when you get a good night's sleep, you do feel better able to cope with everything, right? And you won't be able to do any of these things on our list if you feel exhausted and groggy. So, deal with sleep deprivation and start waking up fresh and ready to take care of yourself!
If you have anything you’d like to add to this list, leave a comment and share your inspiring ideas and tips with us!