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Medium | 3 Ways for Educators to Make the Holiday Break More Meaningful

This original post can be accessed via Medium on this link.

In This Article:

  • The importance of using our holiday break time to recharge, professionally and personally.

  • Three ways to have a more meaningful holiday break.

Let’s face it. Teaching is now the most stressful profession, which can lead to severe burnout — especially for

teachers who have had to endure the worst of the current state of education.

Even before the Covid aftermath began, studies showed that burnout and trauma associated with teaching are so emotionally taxing that it causes some of our most talented educators to rethink their professional choice and leave. For some, burnout and trauma lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and less-than-optimal performance in many areas of their lives.

So, to be at our best, we must find the right balance between our personal and professional identities. Unfortunately, the constant go of the school year leaves many of us drained by the end of the workday, and taking the needed time to figure out what we need to reboot and heal often takes a backseat.

However, the current holiday break provides those of us in education a nice block of time. We can use this time to strike a new, more effective balance.

Here are three things educators can do to get started and make the holidays more meaningful.

Holiday Break Tip #1: Fill Your Cup

We must take care of ourselves first; doing so is not wrong or selfish. Author and educator Eleanor Brown once said, “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Unfortunately, many of our educators neglect to fill their own cups, metaphorically speaking. Luckily we can utilize the upcoming uninterrupted time away from school wisely to do some of the things that rejuvenate us with inner peace and happiness.

Here are a few ideas to get us started:

  1. Do nothing. I do not recommend not doing anything for the entire holiday break, but a day or two to decompress may be what’s needed.

  2. Find your happy space. Engage in something you love to do (e.g., cooking, hiking, going to the movies, working out, making or listening to music, meditating, taking a dancing class, etc.). Doing what we love naturally makes us happier and is a good lifelong practice.

  3. Get healthier. Find some healthy recipes and make them your own. Go to the gym, create an easy-to-follow routine, or do so from home.

  4. Read or listen to a good book. For busy folks like me, I recommend getting a membership with Audible. The first audiobook is free, and titles can be swapped out for others if you don’t want to keep them.

  5. Listen to podcasts. Podcasts are helpful because participation only requires listening — and are perfect when on the go (i.e., traveling, the gym, etc.).

Holiday Break Tip #2: Invest in Your Relationships

Dave Willis said, Time is the currency of relationships. If you want to invest into your relationships, start with investing your time.”

Many of us have friends or family we haven’t seen or spoken to since the last or previous holiday season. Undoubtedly, our busy lives have made this much harder for many. Perhaps time and distance have made getting together or catching up more difficult. We may also have new friends that we would like to get to know better or have a relationship that needs mending.

Being a father of two teenagers has made me feel that relationships are a more significant part of life than I once thought. It seems to me that nourishing our relationships is important enough to be an ongoing priority for most of us.

And yes, it is easier for some of us than it is for others, so the holidays can be the perfect time to begin. But before we start contacting every single person we once knew, I recommend carefully contemplating who you would like to connect with by asking yourself,

  • “Do I really want this person back in my life?”

  • “Will a relationship with this person add value or toxicity to my life?”

  • “What would I like to see as a result of inviting this person back into my life?”

If the person(s) passes the vetting questions, here are some ideas for making the first move:

  1. Call or write. No need to complicate this. Simply break the ice by stating something along the lines of “Hi there — been thinking about you and I would love to catch up — when are you free to get together?”

  2. Plan a meet-up. Creating a holiday party, coffee, meal, or happy hour plan is perfect for catching up with friends and family. It is also a nice way to integrate a new friend or significant other into your circle. Just try it and see how it goes.

  3. Use social media. If actual Facetime or phone calls are difficult or simply not possible, our social media can be leveraged for socializing at a safe distance. You can start the interaction by wishing those you care about happy holidays or congratulating them on any new achievement.

Holiday Break Tip #3: Set a New Goal and Outline Steps to Accomplishing it

Ed Mylett says, “You were put on earth to grow, to contribute, to serve, to help in YOUR WAY, and the current version of you is perfect as it stands right now. BUT it will be inferior next year!”

Since personal and professional growth is ALSO essential to our well-being—I recommend using the holiday season to plan and map out a new goal for the upcoming year. Life is simply too short not to do the thing(s) we want but have been putting off. It doesn’t have to be something too monumental—just make sure it’s something you want to accomplish. For me, it’s bodybuilding and tactical street fighting. Let your intuition guide this one.

AND before committing your hard-earned dollars, here are two things to consider to help you accomplish the goal you’ve set and are mapping out:

  1. Learn from an expert. It’s always best to learn from people who have already accomplished what you want to do. So vet your instructor before signing up for a new class, course, personal session, or workshop.

  2. Monitor your energy. It’s difficult always to keep the same level of enthusiasm — as our energy will always be either positive or negative. So when achieving a goal seems unattainable, find a way back to a positive state. Doing things we like and being around people who love us unconditionally is always a step in the right direction.

Last Word

Striving to live our absolute best life requires a positive mindset and our life to be balanced, both personally and professionally. Whether we’ve found that or not (yet), no worries, let’s use the holidays to reset and do our best to make the most meaning of that precious time.

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