Self-Care for Us, Theatre Educators


 Cliché Quotes That Should Be Retired:
“You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.”
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
 “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
“It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.”
 “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”What we need right now is not platitudes but manageable objectives that we can achieve in this time of creating new curriculum for distance and/or hybrid learning. And how to self-care, not only teaching my students how to take care for themselves during this challenging time but learning to care for myself. How about carving out time for me? How do I do that without adding more to my already challenging day?

The worst scenarios I have heard:

  • After my first day of teaching online, I went to bed at 7:30 pm. Then I had to get up at 11 pm to see which student checked in to get credit for the day. So schools can get their ADA.
  • Last night. The exhaustion is real. Not sure which is the most exhausting part; the mask for 7 hours in a row, the kids in class & on the screen at the same time needing two different teaching styles at the same time, dealing with technology issues, or just the normal back to school start. It’s. A. Lot. 
  • The unanswered questions and incomplete info are getting to me.
  • I was going at 100%, then it was a sudden – close my computer, turn off office lights, changed my clothes and went for a run. I guess my body told me what it needed… before totally crashing in bed!
  • I tried really hard to do my class expectations, but, well.. I feel like it’s best to mark everything “draft” that we distribute this year, that would make it feel more accurate – and like I’m getting somewhere!
  • I literally paused my video and put my head down in a zoom mtg. I couldn’t stop crying.
  • I had 2 screens set up and one fell and broke during a class. I was frozen with fear. I didn’t know how to solve it. I would have been able to handle it if we were in person and a kid did that. I would be able to help them. I could not help myself.
  • All I want to do is eat and sleep. Make this all go away.
Journey to Self-Care
The definition of self-care is any action that you use to improve your health and well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Illness (NAMI), there are six elements to self-care: (1) Physical, (2) Psychological, (3) Emotional, (4) Spiritual, (5) Social, and (6) Professional.Ideally, a healthy self-care strategy should include an activity that addresses each of these factors every day. That way, you can make sure that every element of your overall health and well-being is taken care of. Self-care activities can be small- to large-scale habits, with examples ranging from packing a healthy lunch to waking up early every day to do a short mediation before work. When left unchecked, teacher stress can lead to burnout and contribute to the high turnover rate in education. But self-care can turn this around and help keep teachers from getting burned out.

I applaud you; I honor and respect you for doing what you do. My license plate says APLS4U; the holder says “Every Day You Deserve a Round of Applause.” I often see people in my rear-view mirror applauding. It is a bit concerning to see no hands on steering wheel, so I applaud them back and steer clear. Try starting your day by giving yourself applause. Look in a mirror and applaud. Blow kisses, thank everyone who ever encouraged you. Give the Tony Award speech of your life. Each day, accept a virtual award for just being you.

About The Author

Gai Jones is the President of the national Educational Theatre Association Governing Board which sets policy for the professional members and students of Theatre; Thespians; California Youth in Theatre Founder; has a theater named after her at El Dorado High School. She writes Theatre Education books, directs, produces educational Theatre productions, and is a SAG/AFTRA commercial actress.