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There’s One Thing DreamBox Nation Can’t Get Enough of

9 ways educators can make “me time” a priority

Being an Educator can be extremely rewarding. You have the unique opportunity to help shape the future by molding fresh young minds to do good and make their mark on the world. That said, educators are a very specific demographic: they dive right into their work and don’t stop when they reach the deep end. In fact, they tend to keep swimming even when they’re in over their heads.
We recently asked members of DreamBox Nation, our professional learning community, to tell us the top three challenges they face in their careers. The number one complaint across the board? Educators suffer from a severe lack of “me time.” After teaching classes, planning curriculum, grading work, connecting with parents, pursuing professional development, engaging in after-school activities, and doing everything else educators are expected to do, it’s no wonder they have so little time left for themselves.
We hear you and we get it. That’s why we’ve complied these tips to try and get you a little more headspace, so you can power through those busy days.

Start with the Little Things

Your day is long. You start early, don’t have a lot of time in between lessons, and more often than not your day doesn’t end when the bell rings. Here are three little ways to reclaim your “me time.” They only take a minute or two, but can pack a powerful punch and keep you energized all day long.
• Eat something! Sounds crazy, right?! Your brain is like a car, it needs fuel to keep going. Eating just a bite or two of food releases serotonin in your brain, elevating your mood and giving you the energy you need to make it through your next lesson.
• Drink something! Big fan of coffee? Tea? Hot cocoa? Keep these little sips of happiness nearby so when you need an afternoon pick-me-up it’s just within arm’s reach.
• Smell something! Lemon, lavender, and jasmine all have something in common; they have calming properties! Engaging in a little aromatherapy is an easy and affective way to keep your mood elevated and your energy up. A few strategically placed drops of essential oils can revitalize your classroom.

Move on to the Medium Things

Once you nail the little things, you can think about making some bigger changes. For example, there are many things you can do to your classroom to make it more comfortable for both you and your students. Prior to joining DreamBox, curriculum designer Elizabeth Venn taught fifth grade for ten years. She offers these ideas for making your work environment extra me-friendly:
• Lose the fluorescent lights. Studies show that working under the harsh glare of artificial light can drain every last bit of energy out of you. Try bringing in some lamps and fun lights from home to help warm your space and boost productivity.
• Dress your windows for success. Blinds can be boring, but curtains make a statement. Creating a space that is cozy, comfortable, and enjoyable to spend time in will not only put you in a better frame of mind, but it may make those long days just a bit more manageable.
• Make yourself comfortable. Pillows, bean bag chairs, and couches, oh my! By adding warm and welcoming touches to your classroom, you can create a working and learning environment that is comforting for both you and your students.

Make Way for the Big Things

Now, let’s tackle the hard part: carving out actual me time. You need it, you deserve it, and you (and your students) will be better off for it. Here are three big things you need to factor in to your routine:
• Get moving! Schedule time for yourself every day to take a walk, go to a workout class, or do something active that you enjoy. Although it might seem impossible to fit into your busy day, you can start small and work your way up. It will help you clear your mind, improve your mood, and give you more energy.
• Go home! It’s easy to get caught up in work. We all do it, but it’s not healthy. Set a time to leave and stick to it. That’s it! Pencils down!
• Connect with friends and family! Engaging in meaningful conversation with loved ones is proven to boost your mood and energy levels. So, schedule time to grab coffee, go to a paint night, or even try out that new yoga studio down the street.

“Me Time” Matters: Take the First Step

Even starting with just making yourself a cup of hot cocoa is a step in the right direction to reclaiming your “me time.” Setting boundaries for yourself and doing things outside of work that make you happy will not only positively impact you, but those around you too.

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