For many education professionals, the final term of the school year was a tricky one. Online learning put huge pressure on teachers and students alike. Now as schools around the world announce they’ll slowly start to return to in-person classes, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the autumn term. What will class sizes look like? What about scheduling? And how will everyone social distance?
That said, the long summer holiday is a crucial period of rest for teachers, and it’s important you don’t let these concerns take up too much of your energy and attention over the break. After all, it’s more important than ever to return to school this September rested, recharged – and ready to inspire students.
How to recharge your batteries over the summer
For some teachers, the lack of structure during the summer holidays is a refreshing change from the term-time hustle and bustle. But for others, it can be difficult to transition into a slower pace – and long days leave a lot of time for worrying about the future. So how can you make sure that uncertainty doesn’t take over your summer?
1. Search out new experiences
The summer break is usually a great opportunity for travel and new experiences – but depending on where you live, that might not be as possible for some teachers this year. Instead, why not consider a few nice day trips? Even if your destination is only an hour away, it will still provide you with a change of scene. Going away has been associated with greater cognitive flexibility, which helps you to manage stress and adapt to new situations.
2. Prioritise rest and relaxation
Don’t start off your summer with a long to-do list. Instead, make rest a priority. Turn off your morning alarm and let your body have as much sleep as you need. Everyone relaxes in different ways, whether that’s listening to music, catching up with friends or going for a swim. Whatever they may be, make time to indulge in your favourite activities that sometimes take a back seat during the busy school year.
3. Get creative
We already know that doing something creative makes us feel good and improves our health, whether that’s as simple as cooking a meal or planting a window box. So how can you maximise your creative potential during the summer holidays? Well, there are lots of options. You could take a class in something you like or have always wanted to learn about. If there’s not much on offer in your neighbourhood, try an online tutorial or see if a friend would be interested in swapping classes (in which you teach them something in exchange). Or simply carve out time to work on your own creative practice, whatever that may be.
4. Plan ahead for yourself
Use some of your downtime to personally plan ahead for September. When you’re cooking, consider doubling your recipes to build up a freezer stash – making cooking easier come autumn. Also try taking a look at your closet to do a wardrobe edit of work clothes, and shop for any new pieces you might need while you have time to spare. And if you know you have some important birthdays coming up, summer is a great moment to buy gifts ahead of time. This way, you’ll take the pressure off during the busy first month of the school year, making for a more relaxed start at work!
5. Unleash your playful side
There is lots of research on the benefits of play for children – but did you know that it’s just as important for adults to make time for fun? Play helps to relieve stress, boost your energy, and sharpen your cognitive abilities. It can take many forms, like playing board games at home with friends, taking part in activities like bowling and karaoke, or playing with a pet in the park.
6. Reconnect with nature
There are scientifically proven benefits to spending time in nature – such as improving your mood and vitality, and reducing anxiety and mental fatigue. Feeling connected to nature can also significantly increase levels of happiness, life satisfaction and mindfulness. What’s more, in feeling connected to nature, we’re also more likely to be invested in protecting it and making environmentally friendly choices. So spending time outside in nature this summer could be a good thing not just for your health, but for the environment, too.
7. Reset your mindset
Read up on mindfulness techniques to give yourself a full mental reset during summer. This article has some very interesting insights into how you can use some neuroscientist-approved techniques to help you develop a positive mindset and return to school with less anxiety and a more upbeat outlook. There are also lots of mindfulness strategies and breathing techniques online that you can use to help reset before the start of the school year. And read more on using mindfulness at school in our mindfulness articles.
Even if you just make time for one or two of these suggestions, you’ll feel the benefits after a stressful spring term. So this year, make sure your summer break is as fun and relaxing as possible – you deserve it!
If you’re looking for book recommendations for your holidays, don’t forget to take a look at our suggestions for summer reads.