Take Care of YOU: One Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup

Donnetta NorrisBlog, Self Care Better


  • Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your students.
  • Set a goal for when to leave school.
  • Prioritize your weekend and schedule time to prep for the week.
  • Work out and take care of yourself physically.
  • Journal to reflect on how things are going and to experience calm.
  • Make a list of what you love to do and make sure it gets scheduled each week or month.

The What and The Why

If you are like me, my students’ overall well-being is one of my top priorities in every school. Think about it. For our students, and sometimes because we are forced to, we read all the books, attend all the professional developments, and constantly reflect on the strategies and methods that worked, the ones that didn’t, and the ones that simply need to be tweaked. And, all this planning and prepping for our students is often occurring during the summer months…on our own time, right?

Then, the school year begins and students have returned to the classroom. Everything starts to move fast and furiously. Before long, it seems that everything is due all at once. You feel like you have to keep going and doing. You convince yourself to keep pushing or it will ALL fall apart. Maybe this is just me.

Consider the activities and hobbies you already enjoy doing to relax or have fun. Intentionally schedule those activities within your week or month. Click To Tweet

The Truth

It took some time, but I’ve learned that it won’t…it won’t ALL fall apart. But, I most certainly almost fell completely apart. I was putting the work (a good and noble cause) above my own self-care. Some symptoms I experienced included:

  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness/Sleepless Nights
  • Worry/Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Frustration

You, too, may be mistreating yourself for “the good of the cause.” Ultimately, trying to do it all to the point of feeling overwhelmed will make you and me no good for anyone…especially not for our students; the ones for whom we do all the things…remember? Again, it took some time, but I learned that taking care of me was just as, if not more, important than taking care of my students.

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What Worked For Me

So, how can you and I do more to care for ourselves? A few strategies/activities that help me step away from the work and focus on me are:

  1. Resolving to leave the school building between 4:30 and 5:00 every day that I can.
  2. Prioritizing weekend time with my family, until after 5pm on Sunday. Then, I might look at school-related work.
  3. Working out. Staying consistent with my routine/schedule is a stress reliever for me.
  4. Journaling. I find it to be therapeutic when I write my thoughts and feelings in my notebook.

Finding What Will Work For You

I realize there is no “One Size Fits All” when it comes to self-care. You will need to figure out what works for you. Consider the activities and hobbies you already enjoy doing to relax or have fun. Intentionally schedule those activities within your week or month. Setting some boundaries (similar to numbers 1 and 2 above) that can help you balance the amount of time you give to the work (at work and at home) is always a good starting point.

About Donnetta Norris

Donnetta Norris is a 2nd grade teacher in Arlington, TX. She has been an educator for the last 10 years. She enjoys reading professional, children’s, and MG literature. Donnetta loves being in the classroom with her Scholars and is passionate about improving her writing craft as a teacher-writer. She also blogs at TeacherReaderWriter and The Rogue Scholar.