December is here and the winter break is right around the corner. Everyone in education knows the markers of an upcoming break: tired teachers, overwhelmed administrators, and hyped kids who make everything harder for the staff.
It’s totally normal to be tired and frustrated at this point in the year. You’ve been working long, hard hours for four months and you Just. Need. A. Break.
It’s important to take advantage of this time so you can return to your school in January recharged and ready to take on the challenges of the next four months. Here at Ensemble we really prioritize having a good work-life balance and taking the time you need to recharge your batteries, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite “treat-yourself” items and activities:
- Get some rest! It seems that one of the first things that gets cut from our daily schedule is that precious 8 hours of sleep. The cognitive and emotional impacts of missing sleep are pretty intense (poorer decision making, less emotional control, higher risk of depression, irritability, etc.), so during the break, prioritize your sleep. I know that can be hard (especially if you have a family), but do your best to get all 8 hours of sleep every day of the break. Maybe this means you need to go to bed at 8 so you can wake up with the kids at 5 or maybe it means making sure your spouse doesn’t make breakfast when he or she wakes up at 7. Whatever it is you need to do, do it! Be selfish about your sleep when you have the opportunity.
- Read a book.. for FUN! There is nothing better to relax your nerves than getting lost in a good book. Take this time to read something that isn’t related to work (that’s right, none of those books on learning or leadership). If you don’t have any ideas, the Ensemble team has some recommendations:
- Leigh – Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas “I’m pretty obsessed with this series. The last book just came out and I’m re-reading them all to get the places and people straight before I finish it! This is a high-fantasy young adult series (I would say it errs a bit older than the Harry Potter crowd). It centers around the delightfully feminist assassin, Celaena Sardothien whose life was ruined by the same king who is offering to trade her services for her freedom. The first book is a fun read, but the rest of the series is where it gets great!”
- Elise – “Right now I’m reading This is How It Always Is. It’s about a family with a transgender child. It’s really touching. The other fiction books that I’ve been recommending to friends are The Book of Essie about a daughter of a televangelist, The Great Alone about a family in Alaska and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. They’re all great stories!”
- Pamper yourself. Everyone has something they do when they need a little self-care. I like to take long strolls on the hiking trails around town. My sister likes to take baths with fancy bath bombs and salts (a great place to do some of that reading for fun!). My housemate likes to put on a facemask and watch a silly movie. Take this time off to do whatever your “self care thing” is. Here’s the Ensemble staffs favorites:
- Leigh – “My self-care space is outside. There’s something about being on a trail that makes me calmer and happier. It’s like I can work out my thoughts in silence and then enjoy soaking up that Vitamin D!” To find a trail near you check out The Hiking Project
- Elise – “I’m all about chocolate to indulge…a mocha, chocolate covered cherries, a chocolate donut, etc..”
- Farah – “I love a good pedicure and manicure with a good friend followed by some frozen yogurt!”
- Don’t forget to take care of your body. Another thing that pretty quickly gets pushed to the wayside when you’re overwhelmed is exercise and overall healthy practices.
- Take this time to refocus on healthy exercise. Maybe take a walk every other day in the evening? Or if you love kick-boxing, make a point to go to a class a couple times a week. Just remember what it feels like to be active and the benefits it can provide (in the words of Elle Woods, “exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t kill their husbands”).
- Along that same line, use the break to schedule all those doctor’s appointments you’ve been putting off. Get your teeth cleaned, check that bloodwork, address that nagging knee pain. Do whatever it is that you need to do to ensure you’re teaching and helping kids learn for many years to come.
- Reconnect with the people you love. This is the time of year where people come together. And although that can be fraught with anxiety (lots of people = lots of social pressure), it’s also beautiful. Try to focus on reconnecting with those people that you really love (not just the ones you feel obligated to see). Plan an outing with your family or the friends who have become your family and remember it’s OK to say “no” to social events. You don’t have to go to your second cousin’s white elephant party where you don’t know anyone. If you value you second cousin, propose a coffee date to sit and catch up instead. Prioritize the people in your life that make it great!
Happy Holidays from the Ensemble Learning staff! We all hope you have a magical, relaxing, fun couple of weeks and look forward to supporting your success again in January!