Homework for Educators: Recharge Over Winter Break to Avoid Burnout

For educators, it’s almost second nature to make sacrifices for students. Every year, you make a physical and emotional investment to support your school and students and ensure they succeed. Yet, without a healthy work-life balance, many educators experience high levels of stress, which may lead to burnout. Winter break provides much-needed time to relax and recharge so that you have the energy, well-being, and stamina to begin the new year fresh.

Research shows that the two-week holiday break can help restore your energy and emotional resources — and this time off goes a long way toward reducing burnout rates. The opposite also is true: Educators who cannot stop worrying about work during the break are more likely to feel increased stress and fatigue in the second half of the school year.

Effective coping strategies can help you make the most of your time off during winter break and set yourself up for a successful spring semester.

Here are some tips and activities for recharging:

Relax: Use your time off to focus on enjoying free time and renewing your energy. Try to minimize holiday stress related to visiting relatives, hosting guests, or making ends meet financially. Get outside often (if the weather is nice!), catch up on sleep, and set aside time for things you enjoy doing but do not have time for during the school year.

 Recognize and Express Your Emotions: Giving voice to your emotions is an effective way to vent frustrations and decrease stress. Find a friend, loved one, or colleague, and talk through struggles and successes you encountered during the first semester of school.

Tap Into Support Networks: Support networks can be an effective way to avoid burnout because they provide an opportunity to lean on your peers and mentors for their advice, swap ideas, and get support. There are many free educator-based networks available — join one today!

Plan for the Semester Ahead: It may sound counter-intuitive, but spending time during break to plan for the year ahead can alleviate stress and anxiety. Having a plan for day one of spring semester can ease the transition back to school, both for you and students. Caution: It is important to limit time spent working during the break. Allow yourself only a set number of hours so you do not work your way through the holidays.

Winter break is an opportunity for some much-needed time off from the demands of your important job. Research shows that taking this time to unplug can help prevent burnout and increase your effectiveness for the remainder of the year. Give yourself time to relax and recharge during the holidays so you can hit the ground running in the new year.

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