Self Care: Unwind and Recharge

Whitney ChoateBlog, Lead Better, Lesson Plan Better, Manage Better, Self Care Better

In This Post:

  • Valuing self care helps us bring our best selves to the classroom.
  • 8 ways to practice self care over winter break.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  You must first take care of yourself.

There’s been this quote circulating around the internet in the last few months.  It really strikes a chord with me, as last year I really struggled to take care of myself while I was taking care of my students and teaching duties.  The goal is to be at your best in the classroom but also at home. As educators, we often pour so much of ourselves into our students and our jobs that we can unintentionally forget about pouring into ourselves.  If you don’t care for yourself, you will be forced later on to do so with an illness and a sick day.

As educators, we often pour so much of ourselves into our students and our jobs that we can unintentionally forget about pouring into ourselves. Click To Tweet

Here are a few ways you can unwind over your holiday break so that you come back refreshed and ready to tackle this spring semester.

Self Care Strategy #1: Hone in on a Hobby

Pick up an old hobby or start a new one.  Have you always wanted to learn how to do something?  Run to Hobby Lobby and get yourself some supplies and park it in front of YouTube videos.  Go to your local gym and learn how to rock climb. Did you get a new piece of tech as a gift?  Learn some cool new tricks with it. These hobbies are things that your students find interesting about you, and you can even tie into different lessons.

Self Care Strategy #2: Endorphin Rush

Go for a hike.  Play mini-golf or race go-carts.  Join the gym (and actually go). Take a hot yoga or kickboxing class.  The main thing is to get active! Get those natural endorphins and enjoy a natural high.  There’s only so much time you can spend on the couch watching Disney Plus.

Self Care Strategy #3: Quality Connections with Family & Friends

You don’t have to write lesson plans, stay after school for faculty meetings, or grade any papers.  Use this time to reach out to family and friends you have not seen in a while. Reconnect. Volunteer at a local charity together.  Get coffee. Wrap presents together. Do a winter craft or make a cookie recipe from Pinterest you have been eying. Just spend that quality, stress-free time together.

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Self Care Strategy #4: Read for Pleasure

During the school year, we all read so much on a daily basis that we can often get tired of reading in our downtime.  Winter break is the perfect time to pick up that tantalizing thriller or novel you’ve been eying all year. Find the perfect reading spot in your home or at your local coffee shop and live another life through these characters.

Self Care Strategy #5: Reflect

Journal.  Write. Mediate.  Pray. Reflect. Find some way to look back on this year, both personally and professionally.  You may want to see if you met any goals and set new ones. You may want to write a fun fictional story or journal about your personal experiences.  If prayer or meditation is up your alley, spend some time quietly reflecting and listening in the quiet. Any of these can help bring a sense of peace and calm into your life, especially if you practice them regularly.

Self Care Strategy #6: Pamper Yourself

Selectively splurge on holiday treats, tasty dishes, and a glass of eggnog (or three).  Take a long, relaxing bubble bath. Drink lots of water. Go for a massage or pedicure.  Whatever you do, the key thing is to do something for you. It’s not selfish to take an hour or two away from your family to focus on you.

Self Care Strategy #7: See the Sights

Whether you have a stay-cation or travel afar, get out of your house and experience something new!  Go that museum that has always piqued your interest, or take your kids to a new restaurant in the next town over.  Go somewhere you’ve never been before and use this experience to learn and grow. Who knows, it could inspire something for you do in your classroom this spring.

Self Care Strategy #8: Have Fun

Whatever you do, find the fun.  This is the time for you. Don’t feel guilty or let anyone else tell you otherwise. You work hard serving others.  Take a moment or two for you.


Whitney Choate is currently in her ninth year as a secondary special education teacher and is also an instructional technology specialist at Cape Central High School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Learning and Behavioral Disorders and a Master’s degree in Autism. She has a passion for teaching and mentoring learners of all ages. Whitney is also the co-host of the Tough Talk with Teachers Podcast.