8 ways to take care of yourself

Originally posted in 2018, this post was updated in December 2020. Karen Hope is a presenter at the 2021 ECA National Conference.

The early childhood care and education sector has a workforce that often places the welfare and needs of others above their own. Because of this, in the face of ever competing demands and responsibilities, we, as educators, do not pay due diligence to our own wellbeing.

Educators often overlook their own physical, mental and emotional needs, resulting in a state of exhaustion, stress and anxiety—particularly as the year draws to a close and our internal toolboxes are somewhat depleted. As the year draws to an end, how do we find our joy, our renewed interest, our enthusiasm and our excitement for the possibilities that the New Year holds when we are tired and worn out?

Educator wellbeing should be a career-long focus. This requires you to be alert and constantly ‘checking in’ to endure that you are taking care of your own needs first. To ensure that we have a workforce that reflects wellbeing, it requires each early childhood educator to have his or her own strategic plan.

  1. Eat well.
  2. Get physical—move a little, or a lot. But move!
  3. Get some sleep.
  4. Learn to prioritise—set realistic daily goals.
  5. Take a break 10 minutes out of the early learning space can allow you to breathe and re-boot.
  6. Maintain your own personal interests.
  7. Try a mindfulness practice—yoga, meditation or invent your own.
  8. Look out for each other—try to establish a culture that places educator wellbeing as a shared responsibility.

Early childhood educators are influential in the lives of young children, and the messages we send either overtly or covertly may have far reaching and lasting implications.

Click here to download the above graphic as a printable poster.

This article was taken from ECA’s Voice newsletter. To receive your copy of Voice, click here to become a member of Early Childhood Australia.

ECA Recommends

Taking care of you: Reducing stress and burnout for teachers and educators
By Anne Vize

This book describes what it is to be stressed, how stress can lead to burnout, and how stress, burnout and anxiety can lead to more serious and longer term difficulties. It explores what can be done to manage stress and to ensure that life becomes pleasurable once more, and it looks at some of the protective factors which act to sustain those in the education and care professions and help them to feel positive and excited about their work each day. You can purchase your copy on the ECA Shop here.

Karen Hope

Karen is an early childhood consultant, lecturer and freelance writer who has extensive experience in a broad range of services within the early childhood care and education context. Her consultancy practice and teaching aims to provide teachers and educators with a disruptive approach to working with, and thinking about, children. Challenging taken for granted practices and dominant discourses is a feature of her work.

3 thoughts on “8 ways to take care of yourself”

    Laila says:

    Yes I agree with this thing as a educators we should take care of our mental, physical and emotional health. These 8 ways help us to keep our self healthy and happy to continue our wonderful journey of our life long exercise of taking more education and giving education to children.

    Denise Viswalingam says:

    If , as you suggest, the intention is to challenge dominant discourses, it would be necessary to take a wider view of EC educator well-being. Using the lens of “practice architectures” (Wilkinson et al, 2010) would be useful as an on-site framework for service reflection. Recognising that educator anxiety, stress and burnout originates from within the individual service context and that transformative practices cannot be left to the educator alone, would be a starting point. Examining how on-site variables either enable or constrain educator wellbeing would lead to long-term, meaningful change.

    Wilkinson, J., Olin, A., Lund, T., Ahlberg A., & Nyvaller, M. (2010). Leading praxis: exploring educational leadership through the lens of practice architectures. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 18(1), 67-79.

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