Teacher Care Now!
According to an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) poll released in 2017 - 61% of teachers find work “always” or “often” stressful. This is twice more stressful than workers in the general public.
Teachers are the most selfless people I know. We are so consumed with the mandates of our job and the needs of our students that we put our own needs last. This can have dire effects on our health and well-being, as well as on our families.
This is what happened to me.
After working as a public school teacher for over 14 years, I started visiting my doctor monthly because of health problems caused by the demands of being a teacher. I suffered from insomnia, exhaustion, anxiety, mood swings, and loss of appetite, which are all caused by stress, depression, and high blood pressure. My doctor told me that if something did not change, “This job is going to kill you.”
This was back in 2015. However, I could not stop being overly involved in my work as a teacher. I didn’t know how to put myself first. I didn’t know the steps I needed in order to make a change. I felt guilty if I walked away from the ungraded papers or told parents that there was a limit to the help that I could provide their child, and because of this I paid the ultimate price. I lost my family.
Teachers are hurting! The needs of our job are so great that we forget about our needs and many times we are too exhausted to attend to the needs of our families.
A year later, after experiencing more severe health problems and losing my family, I was finally able to start the process to save my life. I was finally able to start the process to prioritize my life. I was finally able to start the process to separate being a teacher from being a mom and a regular citizen, and I was still able to be an effective teacher!
The reality is we cannot put students first if we don’t put ourselves first. Taking care of teachers (ourselves) helps us to take care of students and our families. The only one who can make this change is us.
Teacher Care Now was created to help teachers avoid what I went through. Teacher Care Now was created to share tips and resources to help teachers better take care of themselves so that they are better able to care for our students and our families.
There are many in the general public who do not understand this. We live in a culture where teachers are expected to put students above themselves. We live in a culture where teachers are expected to go above and beyond every day for students. We live in a culture where if teachers talk about their needs they are seen as unprofessional, selfish, or insensitive to student needs. However, we are the best teachers that this country has and we want to be the best teachers for our students. People are not running to the field of education, but are running away from it, which is causing even more work and stress on us. The silver lining in all of this is that teachers are standing together in unity and we are being heard. However, when it comes to our health, wellness, and families, our fight must be personal. We must put ourselves first. When we put ourselves first, we are mentally, physically, and emotionally better equipped to handle the needs of our students and our families.
Our students and families deserve nothing but our best. We owe it to ourselves to give them that, and it starts with -Teacher Care Now!
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Teacher Care Now Tips
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3 Tips to Begin Teacher Care Now
1. Start your day by doing something for you.
Whether it is yoga, going to the gym, or having a cup of coffee, take time to breathe and be in the moment. Teachers spend so much time throughout the day caring for everyone else that many of us do not take proper care of ourselves. This can cause anxiety, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, depression, and fatigue.
Starting the day by doing something for yourself can help you focus on the task at hand, put your day in the right perspective, and alleviate stress.
2. Drink more water and always have healthy snacks available.
I know, I know. Since we are responsible for caring for students, teachers are pros at controlling the need to use the bathroom during instruction. Because of this, teachers are at greater risks of urinary tract infections, which can lead to kidney damage if not treated. This is a health issue and therefore when you need to go, you need to go. Every opportunity that you have to use the restroom during the day, use it. If there is an emergency, call the office. They should be able to get someone to cover your classroom for a few minutes. Better yet, don’t allow it to become an emergency by going before it gets to that point. Drinking more water helps reduce fatigue, fights off sickness, and helps to promote clear thinking.
Since teachers are known for taking care of others before we take care of ourselves, many times we neglect to eat properly. Many times we forget to eat until our body reminds us to eat. That is why it’s so important to have quick, healthy snacks around. Eating regularly helps us maintain energy levels, helps to regulate our metabolism, increase focus, and it reduces crankiness, and cravings. These snack foods are always good to have around:
Nuts - good source of energy, protein, fiber, fat, and some can even help prevent diseases.
Fruits - increases for energy, and other vitamins and minerals.
Raisins - high in vitamin B, iron, and potassium.
Carrots - packed with vitamin A and protects eye health and vision.
Sweet potatoes -try cutting up sweet potatoes into fries or slices and eat them raw!
They are a good source of vitamin A and can help reduce blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
Granola bars -can regulate sugar levels and be a good source of fiber and protein.
3. Visit your doctor regularly.
Teachers tend to neglect ourselves in caring for others, and many times it takes a doctor to identify health risk or for us to take our health seriously. A better reason to see a doctor regular is to prevent health risk. Many doctor’s offices will allow you to make late day appointments so that you do not have to miss time away from work. Some offices have evening hours which are even better for some teachers. My doctor has Saturday and Sunday appointments available which are perfect for my schedule. Whatever your scheduling needs are there is a physician’s office that can accommodate you.
Teacher care now starts with small steps to put you first. Your students and your family deserve the best you that you can be, and it all starts with -Teacher Care Now!