Female teacher in classroom, sitting at desk and hugging herself and smiling with eyes closed

For more than a year, educators have dedicated themselves to making sure their students are successful, at home and in school. Now, with summer here and our educators finally getting a break to relax and emerge from some COVID restrictions, the VEBA Resource Center has put together tips for good self-care — for your body, mind, and spirit — prior to the re-start of school.

What is Self Care: First, let’s talk about the buzz phrase “self-care.” What does it really mean? Sure, it can mean getting a massage or buying something you want, but “self-care” runs deeper than that. It’s is a mindset, an approach to living that puts your well-being first. For some — especially those who are caring for others — that may seem selfish. It’s not. Many experts agree, you can’t give what you haven’t got. Your cup needs to be full before you can share yourself with others. So, “self-care” means finding ways to sustain your own mental, physical, and spiritual health. Experts with Psychology Today say to start with the basics: get quality sleep (at least 7 to 8 hours per night), eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.

Find a physical outlet: Running, swimming, yoga…whatever activity suits you can help keep you balanced. Early morning exercise can help ground you and set your elevated mood for the day through the release of endorphins. At the end of the day, those same endorphins can help clear your head and release frustrations that may build up during the day. Check out the VRC class calendar for movement, stretching and fitness classes you can join for FREE!

Choose your commitments: Educators are givers. You give to your students, school, and co-educators as well as your family and community groups. That’s commendable! It can also leave little time for you to refill your cup. So, when asked if you can give your time to something or someone, pause and think about what your schedule says and how you truly feel. Are you drained and depleted? Or energized and passionate about the project/person? In short, don’t spread yourself too thin by saying, “yes” when you want to say, “no.”

Do what makes you happy: Do you love to read or work on your car? Is there a club you want to join? All of these things aim to connect you with what fills you up. So, make it a priority to do something just for you, not because a friend asked or a family member suggested it. What do you want to do? And it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are classes and MeetUp groups that don’t charge anything! The San Diego Tourism Authority has dozens of suggestions for no- or low-cost things to do around the county.

Find some quiet time: Try unplugging completely, even briefly. Put away your phone. Hide the computer. Go somewhere quiet. Head for the ocean, the mountains, or a hiking trail. Connecting with nature is a proven way to reduce stress levels. Our nearly constant connection to each other, the Internet, and electronics can be insidious. We don’t even realize how draining these attention grabbers can be. And — just like powering down a computer can help it reconfigure — disconnecting can help you reboot, too!

Prep and prepare for back to school: ResilientEducator.com recommends that educators spend some time reflecting and prepping for the fall quarter before leaving the classroom for the summer, in order to be better prepared. What worked? What didn’t? “Many of these critiques or changes are fresh in your mind in April or May — when you have a little energy or time to modify them — but fade into the background by August.” Along the same lines, ResilientEducator says professional development courses taken during the summer weeks can help boost confidence and better prepare you for future opportunities.

Your VEBA Resource Center also provides a wide range of individual and group classes – cooking, yoga, and meditation – to boost your self-care efforts. Take a look and let us know how we can support your journey toward better health! And thank you for all that you do!