Almost every educator waits with bated breath for a wondrous winter break that blesses everyone - students and teachers - with a few days to rest and recharge for the New Year ahead. Even though I’m not teaching in the classroom now, December brings an automatic calendar cue to focus on family and myself by putting work on the back burner. That said, any extra days off can also lead to the dangerous list of “things to do” on break, which can easily derail any beautiful breathing and balance we need so much.
Be it a few days or a whole wonderful week, every waking and sleeping hour is valuable and important! So, here’s some simple advice (to myself and to you) - three suggestions for how to plan for a winter break with better outcomes and help avoid teacher burnout.
- Make a list - with ONLY 3 things to accomplish. Keep the list focused on people and connections vs. productivity and chores (save that for the New Year!) Allow yourself to book 3 dates to meet up with special friends or family members who bring you joy.
- Spend time outside every day. Vitamin N (nature) is especially powerful when added to any vacation days. Take a walk with no time limits - intentional meandering is good for mind, body, and soul.
- Eat treats. Don’t deny yourself at family and friend gatherings - that’s stressful and NOT FUN! Instead, enjoy a bite or two of each treat that catches your eye and satisfy your sweet tooth/festive food cravings by joining the party as a “food moderate.” (Refer to list item #2 - that’ll help you balance out #3!)
It’s true, I’m older and wiser. But teaching for 25 years is what helped me understand the importance of downtime and setting boundaries. For winter break ahead - and any other bonus days you get, it’s up to you to make these precious days meaningful and refreshing. It can be as easy as 1-2-3!
P.S. - I can’t help it, I’m sorry. I just had to add OMT (one more thing):
4. Read a book that has nothing to do with teaching and learning. Pick an old favorite and re-read a few chapters or finally start the new book that’s been collecting dust on your night stand. Your brain deserves a story that’s written just for you this winter break. Enjoy a book escape!