Active Recovery for Educators

I noticed something during this past Winter Break. Any time that I checked Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform I saw all sorts of memes about teachers relaxing. One of my personal favorites said that we have earned the right to be lazy the entire break. I couldn’t agree more.

As the break progressed I had to stop myself from working or reading my latest find about standards based grading. My husband would see me sneak away and find me sitting and working on my iPad… typing away on a new blog. Don’t get me wrong, I also discovered the joys of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisal while on break. I had plenty of lazy mornings and time spent doing absolutely nothing. Everyone needs time when they are not 100% put together. When I am at work I have to be completely there for my students. They need me to show up and be ready for them. Always.

During my down time I also got the chance to read several blogs I had been meaning to catch up on. Pretty much every single one I read leading up to the new year was about self care. I am so excited that self care is such a hot topic today among educators. Teachers have to make time for themselves.

When it comes to “self-care”; here is a reflection of mine over the past year.

Last summer I had several great opportunities come up. I got to go to Montana with a coworker for a sustainability conference, Fort Collins, CO with my family on vacation, and Chicago for Pre-AP training with college board. Since I had so many trips planned I felt like the rest of my time should be spent doing nothing. To me, all of this “doing nothing” between trips and my son’s baseballs tournaments was my self-care and relaxation.

During my winter break I took a different approach. Instead of approaching my self-care with “doing nothing”; I made plans. I visited family, I read books, I painted again, and I did so many activities with my kids. I very rarely spent time laying in bed and binging on Netflix.

With complete sincerity, when it was time to go back to work on January 3, I felt ready. I felt re-energized. I could attribute it to one thing: I did active recovery over the break.

Now, for some background. I was an athlete growing up. I played competitive soccer, softball, and basketball. I finished high school playing volleyball as well. Since graduating high school I have tried to stay active. I have done CrossFit, Barre, and various other workouts and have loved each of them. One term you may hear regularly in the athletic world is “active recovery”. To keep it simple this means on your days off, you still go do something like a walk or light jog. Don’t completely take off, but just make it light. This keeps the athlete from going from one extreme to another, they are always staying active. Just at different levels.

This philosophy can also be applied with teachers. The extreme highs and extreme lows can be difficult for a person to handle. When someone has been working 60+ hours a week and working with difficult students it can be hard to completely shut down and do nothing.  On the same line of thought, if a person has completely checked out then when it is time to go back to work it can be equally if not more difficult to adjust back to work life.

This is why I suggest active recovery for teachers. Spring Break is right around the corner (hard to believe). So for the break instead of “doing nothing” why don’t you plan for a few activities or projects you want to complete. Now this does not mean go overboard. It is active RECOVERY. It is all about finding that balance. Before each break plan a few active things to do and a few pure recovery things to do. This will help the break truly prepare you for your next leg of work.

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