Self-Care in the age of Covid-19 - Returning to School as a Teacher
Now more than ever, as you attempt to plan and adjust for your return to the new school year, self-care is going to be key! You cannot provide a safe and nurturing environment for your students if you are not yourself comfortable and taken care of. Whether you are going back in person, hybrid model, or virtual, this current health crisis poses all sorts of health risks for you, our educators.
First-things-first: "It is oK".
It is ok to feel how YOU feel. If you feel scared, excited, worried, anxious, or any and all emotions...it is OK that you feel this way. You have a right to have an emotional reaction to a global crisis that effects your life, family, and work environment. Just because you are the “Adult” doesn’t mean you are not entitled to being shaken and unsteadied by the uncertainty of our current normal.
However you go back to school, try to keep some of these things in mind, and take care of yourself.
Exercise your right to vent: while I’d never suggest the toxicity that is social media to vent your frustration and concerns, find you someone who will simply listen, and frequent that person as needed. Don’t let your worries, complaints or concerns bottle up inside of you.
Voice your concerns with those who may be able to do something about it. A lot of people will tell you to shut your mouth and deal with things. Don’t! If you are worried about a health risk at work for you or your students, you need to advocate for yourself and them! Even if it is “uncomfortable “ for your administration.
No one can guilt/shame/or straw-man you into risking your life if you do not feel comfortable doing so. If you feel your safety is at risk, you have 100% the right to avoid that.
Your students are not the only ones who are stressed and worried and scared. When you plan for them, take a step back and ask yourself if that plan also alleviates your worries and satisfies your needs for safety as well. We can “both” be accommodating.
Make time to cook! I know, lots of people don’t like to cook. But it takes one more worry about the virus away and gives you something to do! I’ve enjoyed exploring recipes online.
Take a morning or afternoon walk. We have been sequestered in our houses all summer and now you are going back to a very different building than what you are used to, and if your music room is anything like mine used to be..it doesn’t have windows. An outdoor walk will not only make you feel better, it will get you outside, which can be good for our mental well-being.
Lean on your colleagues: We are all trying to figure this out, and no one has all the answers (especially composers!) - lean on your professional colleagues and listen to and work with each other.
Take a moment to reinforce that even if the numbers in your programs go down, even if the quality of your program suffers, even if recruitment comes to a standstill, fundraisers cease, concerts don’t happen etc. THIS IS TEMPORARY. You are strong, you are resilient, and you will repair any damage.
Find an emotional outlet. If you don’t find somewhere to cry, yell, mope, etc. you run the risk of doing those things in front of your kids, and more importantly it feels good and "iS" good to have these emotional outbursts (we just want to control where they happen).
Finally Selfccare is also about prevention! So in the spirit of that, and because in my experience most teachers were not always up to date on local school board elections and the happenings at the district/state level. Take an interest in and be active in the decisions that will affect you, your program and your students. Get involved!
Take care of yourselves this year! We need you, your students need you! Your families, friends and colleagues need you!