How Teachers Thrive//

How Incorporating Nature Into My Day Helps Me Avoid Burnout

As an elementary school teacher and a mom of five, my self-care is all about natural lighting and fresh air.

Courtesy of vvoe / Shutterstock
Courtesy of vvoe / Shutterstock

Overwhelmed teachers and burnout are happening! For myself, I like to end the day with a walk, a run, or working in the garden. I think connecting with nature in the fresh air is rejuvenating. As a mom of 5 in my 16th year of teaching elementary school and a wife to a 5th grade teacher, time to reestablish must be scheduled in. To make the teaching life sustainable, I believe that you must schedule work and balance activities. Make more time to spend with your family or, even better, make more time for yourself. It might make the grueling days manageable.

One routine in my (windowless) classroom that I’ve gotten good at doing consistently is using my warming candle and soft lighting. The overhead fluorescent lighting is terrible on the eyes and worsens the overall mood of the classroom. As I enter my class each day, I turn on the soft lamps and string lights to give my room a warm glow. Then, I turn on the warming cable (electric) to give us a soothing scent. I love vanilla, but I vary it.

One routine in the classroom that helps me be my best self is to get grading done ASAP. This is not an easy task because teachers and students do so much work, but there must be a limit to what you grade. Let the rest be practice. Grade what is necessary and do it immediately.

My number one piece of advice for new teachers (that I would have loved to have been told) would be to stay ahead of your to-do list. Your to-do list will consist of grades, certifications, short-cycle assessments, interventions, IEP meetings, lesson planning, etc. Stay caught up on grading, keep up with filing, do your trainings as soon as possible, get the lesson plans done ahead of time, and make those copies before you need them. Do not procrastinate, or else everything will be due and you will feel like you are drowning. When you are overwhelmed, take it one day at a time.

Thrive Global is partnering with DonorsChoose, the leading platform for giving to public schools, on a new special section, How Teachers Thrive, to share the emotional and self-care resources teachers need to improve their well-being. If you want to help teachers create a more equitable playing field for all students, find a classroom project that inspires you on DonorsChoose.org, and enter the promo code THRIVE during checkout to have your donation DOUBLED during the month of August!

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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