5 Self-care Tips for Teachers from a Real Teacher’s Pet

Summer is upon us for many educators! If it wasn’t for my dog Roy, I might never enjoy my summers. He makes sure I go for walks outdoors and take time in the park. In fact, every summer together Roy teaches me something new. This blog post may seem a little silly, but I think you’ll be able to find some value in these self-care tips for teachers taught to me by a real teacher’s pet.

First, a little about Roy–he’s my greyhound (a breed known for its laziness). While he’s not always the brightest canine around, he has a lot to teach when it comes to relaxation.

I know this may seem like a thinly veiled attempt to justify a blog post about my dog (ok, you caught me!), but I promise Roy knows what he’s talking about.

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Why You Need These Self-Care Tips for Teachers

Summer is a time to relax and recharge before the new school year begins, and we are once again called upon to teach the next generation. Too often, we let it slip away and find ourselves flipping the calendar to September and wondering where the heck our summer went.

If you’re like many educators, you probably spend a lot of your school year fighting burn out. Statistically, most teachers don’t even make it five years into the profession!

Worse, many of us spend our summer working extra jobs to make up for the lousy paychecks. Self-care always seems to slip to the bottom of the priority list.

But if you don’t take care of yourself now, when will you?

You need to use your summer wisely and recharge. I promise you–next year will have new challenges and new highs and lows. You want to be rested and ready.

Self-Care Tip #1: Reconnect with Your Loved Ones

A teacher's pet showing an educator how to rest after a long day at school; self-care tips for teachers
Roy and I cuddling after a long day of teaching.

Chances are that during the school year you don’t get to spend as much time as you would like with your loved ones. Now is a great time to prioritize those relationships that have been on the backburner.

Of course, I mean family and friends. Definitely pour into these important relationships.

But when was the last time you had coffee with that old coworker who kept you sane when you worked together? What about the friend that just had a baby? I bet she could use a lunch out.

Reach out to these people and make a plan early–we’re all busy and if it doesn’t get planned it just won’t happen.

Double up and offer to meet these people at the places you keep meaning to go to but just don’t have time, or use these catch-up sessions as an excuse for some summer fun.

Self-Care Tip #2: Nap!

A teacher's pet showing an educator how to rest after a long day at school; self-care tips for teachers
Greyhounds take self-care very seriously.

You are about eight million hours behind in sleep after a whole school year (I’m approximating here).

Take some time for some guilt-free napping.

Roy reminds me every day in the summer about our early afternoon nap (we fall into a pretty consistent routine of a three o’ clock nap every day when I’m not working).

I know there are things to do and clean and plan, but an hour’s nap won’t hurt. If you have a furry friend to nap with, that’s definitely a plus!

Self-Care Tip #3: Get Outside

A teacher's pet showing an educator how to rest after a long day at school; self-care tips for teachers
Roy really takes his time to stop and smell the flowers.

Regardless of your summer plans–a second job, family time, hardcore momming, or catching up on hobbies–take a break outdoors! The sun won’t be shining forever.

Roy makes sure I get regular walk breaks, and I encourage you to do the same.

Every few hours, stop what you’re doing (even if it’s working really hard on your Netflix backlog) and take a little walk.

If you need some motivation to get up and get going, download an audiobook or some podcasts you love. (This might really help if you’re someone who feels guilty indulging in self-care. Listening to an education podcast or book for class can make you feel like you’re being productive or actually working).

Oh, and don’t forget a walking buddy!

Self-Care Tip #4: Find Some Exercise You Love

A teacher's pet showing an educator how to rest after a long day at school; self-care tips for teachers
What’s a better refresher than a walk at the beach with your best friend?

I hate working out, but I love the way that I feel when I’m living a healthy lifestyle. You can find me begrudgingly lifting weights at least 5 times a week, even during the school year.

Lifting is the only form of working out that doesn’t make me hate my life (plus, it’s giving me some sick guns). I try to do some form of cardio once a week too, but that often devolves into reading or scrolling through Facebook while slow walking on the treadmill.

While I’m not skipping for joy on the way to the gym, I can do these things regularly without complaint.

The bottom line is, you won’t find me at Crossfit or classes where burpees are a possibility. These things make me irrationally angry–and that’s not how working out should feel.

Roy on the other hand, loves cardio. While he’s no longer a professional runner, he still enjoys it and loves our trips to the park. If he feels like it, he runs. If he doesn’t, he’ll walk and socialize.

Take some time this summer to explore some fitness options. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a deep-rooted love of Pilates or yoga. Getting into a fitness habit now is not only one of the most important self-care tips for teachers, but it will help you stay healthy during the school year.

Remember, you’re working out for yourself. Don’t worry about others’ judgements or keeping up in a Zumba class. In fact, this takes me to Roy’s last self-care tip….

Self-Care Tip #5: Don’t Be Competitive

A teacher's pet showing an educator how to rest after a long day at school; self-care tips for teachers
No rushing or multitasking here. Roy is all about mindfulness.

Roy retired from the racing life at only two years old. I watched his racing videos after adopting him, and the reason for his early retirement became clear: he did not care for competition.

While every other hound clustered on the inside rail, my dopey dog trotted on the outside, alone. He managed to win a few this way (he is incredibly fast), but he did not have a competitor’s spirit. Learn from him.

Don’t compare your summer vacation photos to others on Facebook or Instagram.

If you get back to school, only to find that your coworker lesson planned an entire year, read a ton of books, and managed to volunteer in a third world country, don’t feel like you wasted your summer.

Alternatively, just because another colleague took her whole family on a Disney cruise doesn’t mean you need to blow your life savings to make sure your social media feed looks equally exciting.

Your summer should be spent doing whatever is going to make you happy; forget anything else.

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A Final Word on Self-Care Tips for Teachers

Your summer should be spent resting. You’ve more than earned it.

But it should also be a time to set up a framework for an even better school year. Remember, self-care isn’t just face masks and glasses of wine: self-care means taking care of yourself.

Don’t overwork yourself, but if you do nothing productive over the summer, then you’re going to start ANOTHER school year feeling stressed, anxious, and already behind. Make sure to care out a few hours each week to get some work done.

I recommend working smarter, not harder. Pick one or two new strategies you’d like to try (maybe a new novel or using authentic assessments?). Perhaps create some resources that inspire you. But then, grab anything else you need from Teachers Pay Teachers.

After all, one click, your unit is done, and then you can go back to that wine and Netflix binge, feeling oh so much better about the new school year.

Check out my store here, or read some more posts about putting together a unit that won’t bore your students to death!

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