You’ve made it to the end of term, somewhat war worn and weary no doubt, but you’ve made it. Now it’s time to help your body recuperate after everything that a heavy term at school has thrown at it. Here are some ideas to help you look after yourself and fully recharge your batteries.
1. Reflect on the positives of last term
Before they fade in your memory, think of the successes of last term. No doubt it was hard work but there will be some moments that stand out amongst the rest. Record them and reflect on them. Why not start a journal of positive reflections that you can turn to if you’re ever in need of a pick-me-up mid-term too? This can also be a great place to keep all the kind cards and messages you tend to receive from students at the end of the year and which otherwise just get lost with time.
2. Don’t go to work!
This might sound obvious, but we’ve all done it. It’s the holidays; take a break. You need to forget about school for at least part of the holidays. If your role or workload means that a trip into school is unavoidable, then plan ahead so that you only have to visit school once. I’m constantly surprised by how many teachers I talk to pop into school countless times over the school holidays on small errands. Think ahead and you could turn that into one trip, freeing up the rest of your time.
Keeping away from school is partly about ensuring that you’re free to pursue other activities (including sleeping) and also to help you break the psychological link to school. You need to be able to switch off from worrying about school if you’re to relax fully, which means literally walking away.
3. Turn off your email
We live in a world where it’s possible to check your email in bed. IN BED! Is nothing sacred anymore… Well you might have been happy living this 24/7 life in term time but try to move away from it in the holidays. If you’re brave enough and your job allows, just turn your out of office on for the duration of the holidays. Otherwise, set specific times aside when you’ll check your email so that an unexpected email from a colleague doesn’t mar an enjoyable day out with friends or family. Just remember, you’re on holiday now; you’re allowed and expected to take things more slowly and the more you continue to respond to emails and phone calls during your break the more it will become expected of you. Start as you mean to go on.
4. Set specific time aside for work if you need to do
No doubt there will be work you need to complete over the holidays, marking work from last term; preparing lessons for next term; getting your classroom ready. All sorts. You’re likely to worry about all that needs to be done until you take control of it. The easiest way to do this is to tackle it head on. Early on in the holidays write a detailed to do list and make a realistic estimate about how long your work is likely to take. Then actively set aside specific time to do your work. This will enable you to feel free from it the rest of the holiday because you’ll know it’s under control. Some people prefer just to get on and get everything done the first few days of the break and then relax. Others prefer to gear back up for school by working at the end of the holiday – do what suits you, but remember that taking a moment to plan will help you to relax when you’re not working.
5. Get enough sleep
One thing we tend to compromise on during term time is sleep. After all, those books won’t mark themselves. All too often our alarm is going off seemingly moments after we fell asleep surrounded by a pile of books. The holidays provide a great opportunity to catch up on sleep, though if you really want to get the most out of the holidays, your body will respond better to a new routine rather than a sleep binge. Try to get to bed at a reasonable time now you’re not being kept up by marking and lesson planning and set your alarm a bit later – but don’t sleep in all day or your body clock will go doo lally and you’ll find your sleep patterns all over the place. Regular, long nights’ sleep will serve you far better and help you to feel fresh and rested whilst leaving you with plenty of time in your day to enjoy other, non-teaching activities.
6. Eat well
As well as sleep, we tend to compromise on food during term time. Breakfast is eaten on the hoof, we barely find time to eat lunch, and dinner is a joke, reheated pasta in one hand, markbook in the other anyone? Now that you’ve got a bit more time you can plan and enjoy your meals better. Your body will be grateful and you might remember what a good meal tastes like. Enjoy meals with other people too – sitting round the table with family and friends can be a great boost for the soul as well as the body.
7. Plan something to look forward to
You might not have the time or the money for 3 weeks in the Maldives, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some treat time planned into your holiday. Simple things like meeting friends for lunch, going to the cinema or theatre or having a well-deserved night out will help you to feel more relaxed and to enjoy your time off.
8. Get creative
Get your creative juices flowing by enjoying some cooking, art or crafting. Maybe even take class and let yourself become a learner for the day. Doing something completely different will help to re-energise you and you’re likely to really enjoy it. Cooking, craft and art are especially great options for holiday time fillers as you end up with a product at the end of the session, so as well as a warm glow, you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment.
9. Get some fresh air
Getting outside for some fresh air, or puddle jumping depending on the weather, is a great way to blast away the cobwebs and help you to feel rejuvenated. If you’re feeling very energetic then a brisk stroll or a jog might also help you, but even just sitting outside with a cup of tea can do you the world of good.
10. Create a relaxing environment
If you’re at home over the holidays, you may find it hard to relax if there are piles of laundry everywhere and the house is a mess. Taking time to do a bit of a spring clean and a clear out can be physically tiring but internally rewarding and the result is an environment you’ll feel much happier relaxing in for the remainder of the holiday.
11. Indulge yourself
Look after and treat yourself. Extra-long baths, a manicure or even just a really leisurely breakfast are all things that might make you feel better. You’ll know what works for you – the kind of behaviours that feel wickedly indulgent are just what the doctor ordered when you’re recovering after a hard term!
Play video games, play with your kids or pets, sports, crafts, blast the music and dance like crazy … whatever you find fun! (this great tip was contributed by Sarah Allred)
We hope that you all find a good way to relax and rejuvenate during your well-deserved break. If you have any good ideas to share about how to wind down and recharge your batteries during the break, please take a moment to share them by leaving a comment.