The countdown is on, teacher friends. That last-day-of-school mark on your wall calendar gets closer and closer with each crossed out day. We know you love your job (and that you’re darn good at it), so we will not be judging when you do a little happy dance after all your kids walk out the door for summer break.
What to do now? We know you aren’t always able to completely walk off the job, with lesson plans and professional development hours and master’s degrees to be completed. But we do hope you will reserve a little time for yourself, because you deserve it. Making room for things during the summer that your school schedule prevents you from doing will help you feel refreshed and ready to come back in August.
Here are 6 things to fit in to your summer break you won’t regret doing:
Use your library card.
Guess what? There are no papers to grade. 🙌 That means maybe you can read something YOU want to read. A couple of years ago, Yale School of Public Health research uncovered something interesting about people who read books for as little as 30 minutes a day — they live an average of two years longer than people who didn’t read anything at all. Of course, as a teacher you already read a lot. But reading something that fulfills you, teaches you something or transports you to another place for just a little while can be hugely beneficial to your health. Check out (or buy) a book and snuggle up in a chair at the library or in your favorite coffee shop and disappear for a while.
Go out to lunch with your pals.
Those friends who get to go out to lunch on the regular? Call them up and schedule a lunch date. Enjoy some real, local eats that are NOT served on a cafeteria tray (whoop, whoop!) and catch up on what’s happening in your friends’ lives. This will give you a chance to try restaurants you don’t get to visit often, or allow you to try some new recipes if you want to invite them all to your kitchen. And the best part, it’s guaranteed to leave you feeling relaxed and happy.
Get some Vitamin D.
It’s not just fun to get out in the sunshine, it’s good for your health too. You spend a huge number of your days under the fluorescents, so taking in all Mother Nature has to offer during your free time is so important. Vitamin D has a number of wonderful benefits — it puts you in a better mood, helps you sleep better and can even lower your blood pressure.
The dreaded E word. But it doesn’t have to be dreadful. It can make all the difference in how you feel physically and mentally. We know it’s tough to fit in physical fitness, especially when you’re chasing after students all day. But it’s important — figures from the 2017 Educator Quality of Work Survey show you have a stressful job. Sixty-one percent of teachers say their work is always or often stressful, and 58 percent describe their mental health as “not good” for at least seven of the previous 30 days.
Whoa. Let that sink in a little.
Summer break is a great chance to shake off that stress. Go for a run, take a yoga class, start working with a personal trainer — whatever works best for you. Get in a routine. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Be the student.
Well that doesn’t sound fun, you say. But it can be, we say! Is there a hobby or skill you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have time? Find a class that teaches it and immerse yourself in learning something new. Maybe it’s painting, maybe it’s photography. Maybe you want to improve your cooking technique or learn to prepare international cuisine. Search for classes available in your community and just go. You never know — you may be able to bring your experience into the classroom when school is in session and share what you’ve learned with your students.
You don’t have to get up, so why even do it? Don’t set that alarm. Allow your body to catch up on much needed rest and relaxation. According to the Mayo Clinic, sleeping less than seven hours a night is associated with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression, among other health risks. This is the perfect time for you to allow your body to recover from the stress of the school year. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you might even consider taking a nap or two. Go ahead. Do it. We promise we won’t tell. 😉