Tips, links, reflections, and mindfulness practices to help you cope with the common challenges faced by educators and other helping professionals.
last updated October 27, 2020
|photo by tuelezka for freedigitalphotos.net|
posted by Catharine Hannay, founder of MindfulTeachers.org
I know there's a lot of criticism about teachers and health-care workers being told to practice self-care when their working conditions are unfair and unsustainable. There is also a lot of 'self-care' advice that's unrealistic for anyone with limited time and money.
Here are my thoughts on this (as of October 2020):
- Self-care is only part of the equation. How we are treated by institutions and other individuals plays a big part in our wellness.
- Self-care involves figuring out what aspects of our work and schedules we have control over and making choices about how to spend our available time and energy.
- Self-care is far from self-indulgent, especially among those of us who are committed to serving others. It isn’t about being selfish or shirking our responsibilities. It's about maintaining our sanity and energy.
Here are the resources specifically about dealing with the unprecedented challenges during the pandemic:
Here are the most recent self-care posts from September-October 2020. (For all of the latest posts, see the Mindful Teachers Blog):
- Five Mindfulness Practices for Challenging Times
- 4 Quick Self-Care Tips for Frazzled Teachers and Students
- Songs About Hope, Resilience, and Compassion
- A Teacher’s Gratitude Practice To Make It Through Virtual Faculty Meetings: 'Faculty Meeting Gratitude Bingo' created by middle school teacher Erin Bryk
Realistic Self-Care (that doesn't require time, money, or taking away from the care you give to others)
- What Does It Really Mean to Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First?
- Realistic Self-Care: 12 Key Questions to Figure Out What Works for YOU
- 10 Questions About Self-Care Only You Can Answer
- Do-It-Yourself Mini-Retreat for Counselors and Teachers
Self-Care Video Playlists
Self-Care Throughout the School Year
- Feeling Stressed and Out of Time: Ending A School Year ⎼ Or Anything
- The Power of Intention Setting for a Mindful School Year
- Renewing Your Love for Teaching: The Moment That Is Summer
Coping with Stress and Burnout
Body-based practices to help us focus on the present and stop ruminating.
Evalyn Gaskell of Harmony LifeBalance shares her favorite practice for recognizing and reducing self-induced stress.
Tips from mindfulness facilitator Jennifer Howd on creating your own, at-home retreat. All you need is a clear intention and some self-discipline.
Six reminders to keep things in perspective, based on the popular self-help book.
Are you just having a bad day, or is it time to quit your job? Or are you in serious need of some R and R (if only you could find the time)? Answering these ten questions should point you in the right direction... or confirm what you already suspect.
This poster/infographic shows a a few important numbers to keep in mind as you 'keep calm and carry on.'
Tips for professional and family caregivers (carers), based on my family's experience taking care of my mom during her four-year struggle with brain cancer.
In this interview, I discuss how to take better care of ourselves so we can better meet the needs of our students.
"The purpose of mindfully labeling thoughts and feelings is to recognize that they’re distinct from the person who’s having them. You are not your thoughts and feelings; they come and go while you remain yourself."
This poster/infographic shows half a dozen quick ways to clear your head and take care of yourself.
Suggestions on setting limits, work-life balance, and self-compassion.
"Shallow breathing ('chest breathing') can result in a vicious cycle: We breathe shallowly because we’re under stress, which makes the body feel it’s not getting enough air... Relaxed abdominal breathing ('belly breathing') is one of nature’s best anti-stress medicines."
"Most people have a preferred tactic to avoid painful stress reactions... Becoming aware of avoiding a stressful emotion is often the first step in learning how to do something different."
Have you been feeling frustrated and burnt out? Maybe you've started wondering whether it's time to move on? Answering these ten questions should help you make up your mind.
A few strategies for dealing with the frustration that comes from feeling like we don't have control over our work.
Interested in mindfulness, but not sure where to start? Or looking for some new ideas to add to your existing practice? This quick quiz will help point you in the right direction.
"The purpose of the body scan is not necessarily to relax or to go to sleep, although it can help with that sometimes. The important thing is that you stay open and curious to your body's experience."
It isn't a treat if you're not enjoying it. This chart can help you truly appreciate what you're eating by slowing down and noticing not just the flavor but also the texture, scent, color, and even sound.
Here's a quiz to help you measure the strength of your mind-body connection, followed by suggestions for practices you might find useful.
This is a great activity if you tend to spend too much time sitting around with your mind running in circles.
"Changing our shape, in its many parts, can change our mood, our awareness, and what actions we’re able to take."
In this interview, fitness expert (and former kindergarten teacher) Debra Mazda gives specific suggestions for how teachers can integrate healthier eating and exercise habits into a busy workday.
Imagining what complete compassion might feel like can help us access that feeling during difficult times.
It’s uncomfortable to feel guilt or shame over something we’ve done. But instead of trying to push away these negative feelings, we can use them to avoid making the same kind of mistake again.
Imagining a supportive elder can help you respond mindfully in emotionally-charged situations.
Links to More Resources
Three-Minute De-Stressor for Teachers, from Greater Good in Education
10 Steps Towards School Staff Wellbeing, from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
Skovholt Practitioner Professional Resiliency and Self-Care Inventory
CompassionFatigue.org: "The Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project© is dedicated to educating caregivers about authentic, sustainable self-care and aiding organizations in their goal of providing healthy, compassionate care to those whom they serve."
ElderWisdomCircle.org: free personal advice, from "an online inter-generational program pairing advice seekers with a network of seniors (“Elders”) who provide empathetic, caring, and supportive advice based on their own life experiences."
Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL), measuring compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary trauma.
Self-Compassion Practices from Dr. Kristin Neff
guided meditations and exercises on coping with emotions, self-nurturing techniques, and changing critical self-talk
Yoga for Teachers video by Adriene Mishler
Mindful Self-Care with Shelly Tygielski, an 8-part series including:
from Mindful Schools:
from The Mindful Teacher:
from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society:
from Greater Good:
from The Guardian Teacher Network:
Teaching With Trauma: For teachers coping with adverse childhood experiences or other traumas, common classroom situations can trigger strong reactions.
If you find the resources on this page useful, you may also be interested in Posters, Quizzes, and Infographics About Mindfulness and Self-Care and Resources for Practicing and Teaching Mindfulness, Compassion, and SEL.
Catharine Hannay is the founder of MindfulTeachers.org and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance. She is currently working on a book about mindfulness and self-care for teachers.