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Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Teacher Self-Care Strategies for Pandemic Recovery

After over a year of pandemic teaching, I am taking some time this summer to focus on my own recovery process. I think it's important to acknowledge the places in my life that have been most impacted by the chaos and trauma of the past year, and take the time to give those areas the attention they need to process everything before I jump into planning ahead! In this post I'm focusing on self care and relationships.

Before we talk about anything else in this process of cleaning up the covid chaos, we need to focus on our own emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Each of us has been through different journeys through the pandemic dealing with different circumstances and personal struggles, but I think it's safe to say it has taken a toll on all of us. 

For me, this has meant time and space. I have found I really needed quiet time alone to sleep, notice and focus on my thoughts and feelings, and give my brain, heart, and body a chance to rest and start recovering. I had no idea just how tired I was until I got to the end of the school year and had some time to myself- I took naps on and off all day the first day of summer break, and still find I need to take things slowly many days. 

Beyond that, here are some specific things I'm doing to allow myself to recover emotionally, mentally, and physically:

Emotional Recovery

  • Acknowledge the roller coaster of emotions I've gone through and accept them as normal responses to the stress of the pandemic
  • Journal
  • Talk to friends and family
Mental Recovery

  • Give my brain time to process all the thoughts in my head by sitting/ lying down doing nothing
  • Writing lists (this is my #1 way to process thoughts and stop perseverating)
Physical Recovery

  • Sleep. Lots of sleep. 
  • Drink lots of water
  • Book my regular checkup appointments
A lot of this comes down to listening to my body! I'm trying to be intentional about paying attention to, and responding to, what my body, brain, and soul need. 

Another facet of recovery beyond my own internal well-being is my relationships. There has been a lot of talk, for good reason, about the negative impact the pandemic has had on our social lives! As an introvert and single parent I definitely fall into the category of people who is finding it difficult to muster the energy to get out and socialize after so many months of social distancing.

Relational Recovery

  • Make a list of people I want to reconnect with and write down reminders in my planner to specifically connect with a few people each week, whether through text, phone, or in person.
  • Plan outings and travel with family to spend some focused time with them while also getting ourselves out of the house and out of our rut
Beyond friends and family, I'm also conscious of my relationships at school- both my colleagues and my students. This is still the beginning of the summer for me but I have been thinking about the importance of reconnecting with people at school as the new school year approaches: I hope to get back into the practice of leaving handwritten cards for colleagues from time to time just because, taking the time to be intentional with small hallway conversations with students outside of class (now that we will be back in the hallways!), and continuing to foster positive relationships within my classroom as well.

It is going to take some time to get there but I hope sharing these steps I'm taking will help keep the conversation focused on the recovery we all need as teachers this summer! I'm going to be sharing about my process of "cleaning up the covid chaos" over several posts this summer- click below to see them all and read about the other areas on which I intend to focus:

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