As the school year fast approaches, let’s make sure self-care stays a top priority. When you stop to think about the impact that being a music teacher has on your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, do you take care of yourself enough? Do you have a plan in place to take better care of yourself this coming year?
If the answer is no or you’re unsure, here are some helpful tips to beef up your self-care routine:
- Keep family first.
- While your school kids become your family, it’s important to remember your family at home. Taking time each day to check in on your own family helps to keep you grounded in knowing who you are and remembering why you get up and go to work every day. Never let your home life suffer for your work life.
- Take time to rest.
- Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s easy to do and is good for your mind, body, and spirit.Sleeping the same amount of time each night, as impossible as it may sound, will really help you feel your best. While you may not be able to hit your goal every night, saying you have too much to do to get enough sleep doesn’t cut it. You will be more efficient if you are rested and ready to tackle the day!
- Eat right
- I know, easier said than done, but eating right keeps you fueled for those hectic days. Can’t always stop for a healthy meal? Make sure your desk is stockpiled with healthy snacks, think dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, and jerky. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel!
- Again, something that’s easier said than done but essential to keeping you going. It doesn’t matter how you do it, get moving. Take a few minutes each morning to walk around your neighborhood or try out that fun kick-boxing class you’ve had your eye on. Taking time to do something for yourself each and every day will not only help you feel better, but inspire others to take better care of themselves too!
- Read things that inspire you, and it doesn’t have to be music related.
- Teachers tend to get caught up in what they have to read vs. what they wantto read. Think about taking some time for yourself, either daily or even weekly, to read something that’s just for you. Be it a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even Facebook. Try keeping a fun book in the bathroom and use it instead of your cell phone to pass the time. Whatever you do, make sure to carve out a few moments to delve into something for yourself.
- Take time for silence.
- Turn off the emails, smartphones, parent complaints, etc…you won’t need them for this one. Meditation, prayer, or silent contemplation will help you to clear your mind, re-center yourself and be a better person and teacher in the long run. With the world moving at record speeds, this little step is vital to your self-care routine.
- Study music that you love, even if your ensemble cannot play it.
- Don’t let yourself get bogged down in what your kids can do, show them what they should aspire to do. Give your ears a chance to breathe and share your passion at the same time. If you’re enthused about what you’re teaching, your kids will follow suit.
- Go to concerts for fun
- If music is your passion and your career, make sure you don’t lose the passion by making it all about work. Go see that artist, band, or orchestra you’ve been wanting to see…the lesson plans can wait.
- Have a hobby other than music related things
- Trust me, if anyone knows how all-encompassing music can be, it’s me. BUT you should find something outside of music to put some time and energy into so you don’t get burned out. There are millions of things out there you can take an interest in outside of music. For me, it’s college football…maybe you love soccer or always wanted to try knitting or rock climbing…whatever you decide to do, do it for you!
- Learn how to say no to things that are not necessary.
- You can’t do everything. Shocker, right? While teaching is a superpower, you can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Sometimes finding time for self-care is more about getting rid of the unnecessary things in our lives than trying to find extra time. The more you downsize, the more time you’ll have for the things that matter. This will be hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become and the better you will feel.
- Ask for help
- One of the hardest things for anyone to do is ask for help. I’m here to tell you, just do it. You will find 9 times out of 10, the person you ask to help will be more than happy to do so. Just think about how helpful it would be to have someone come in to listen to your ensemble and give you their thoughts. What about having someone come help by working with your students so you can take a breath, sit back, and analyze your work? Doesn’t that sound nice? If you’re shy to ask, offer to do this for someone else…chances are, they’ll offer to do it for you in return. The absolute worst thing that can happen when you ask for help is they say no, so why not?
You will be the best version of yourself and be the best teacher you can be if you prioritize your health and personal wellbeing. It is not selfish to show yourself some love, it is necessary to keep you focused and doing your best at all times. Find something you can do for yourself today and DO IT!
Larry Clark is the founder and President of Excelcia Music Publishing. He is a well-known composer, author and clinician for bands and orchestras. His music is some of the most popular and most performed around the world for school ensembles. He has over 300 publications in print and writes extensively about topics of interest to educators and composers. For more information, visit his website.