Effectively switching off during periods away from work is important to allow yourself to mentally rest and recharge for the new year.
As the end of the school year approaches, we asked 3 teachers to share the strategies they implement to switch off during the holidays.
Jacqueline Irvine, primary school teacher
Teachers' personal lives and wellbeing priorities outside the classroom look different. I encourage you to check in with your needs and understand how to best show up for yourself. However, suppose you are anything like me and need serious switching off and recharging, you might like to try the 2 phases of restoration and replenishment.
Restoration. The wildness of term 4's never-ending to-do list, reporting responsibilities, and festivities may leave you feeling overly mentally stimulated, physically wound and all-around depleted. To re-balance these experiences, pack your work computer and teacher hat away while intentionally slowing down and seeking simplicity. Reduce large social gatherings, stressful situations and busy environments. I choose relaxing activities such as yoga, long walks, and simple chats with loved ones while giving in to sleep-ins and naps. These choices welcome the mind and body to de-stimulate, detangle and become grounded, slowly re-filling all the energy you lost.
Replenishment. Once you have honoured your need for restoration, which may take a few days or weeks, you may feel more energised. Here you can pencil in experiences that bring you enjoyment, meaning and excitement. This may be travelling, gatherings, brunches, live music or indulging in your creative projects. Whatever it is for you, spending your holidays engaging with purposeful fun – which you perhaps had to put on hold for the last few weeks of term – is delightful and fills your cup back up. Restoration is essential because it helps prevent burnout, fatigue and illness. To replenish your life with things that bring you joy is necessary, for it reminds you you're more than a teacher and a to-do list; building your confidence, contentment, and courage come the new year of school.
Gary Romeo, primary school teacher
When I am not working in the classroom or on a technological device, I simply switch off by getting into some simple hobbies with my young family. I find once I do a few of these activities that I do come back ready and raring to go!
Get out of the house! I like to normally travel somewhere scenic like the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, or to a beach/seaside café for a gelato, or to a zoo is always a winner for both children and adults alike to get in touch with wildlife and nature!
Food. Enjoying a favourite meal always does the trick for me. My go to will usually be a steak barbecue, because it normally brings the family and friends together for a great feed and time together.
Exercise and gardening. Any work in the garden helps me to switch off especially at this busy time of year and, along with walking and the occasional bike ride, gives me some decent exercise and switch off time!
Finally read a book or watch a film! Any autobiography or self-help book to get you thinking can be ‘food for the mind!’ I admit I always love a great comedy or action film to keep my mind racing and relaxing!
Marissa Lombardo, secondary school English teacher
When holidays come around, my priority is to get on top of an ever-growing personal to-do list. I book hair appointments, dentist visits and doctor check-ups – all the things that I’ve put off for as long as possible, or de-prioritised during the busyness of term. Being productive, whilst putting myself first, helps me decompress from term time. It allows me to focus on everything that I need and want to get done over the holidays.
As an introvert, I find that I’m sometimes too exhausted during the term to prioritise seeing friends and putting myself in social situations. When I have the time to relax over the break, I love to fill my cup and book in catchups with friends. Being able to relax and enjoy the company of those around me helps me to forget about school for a little while, and to be present with those who are important to me.
Towards the end of the school holidays, recharging also means planning at least my first few days back, so that I can thank myself when the new term comes, and I inevitably feel stressed all over again! Organisation and feeling on top of my to-do list always helps me to feel ready to take on the new term.