Self-nourishing acts for teachers - Education Matters Magazine

All Topics, Latest News

Self-nourishing acts for teachers



As teachers, we spend our days nurturing others without much time left over for ourselves – particularly if we have our own children to care for when we get home after a busy day. I’m urging you to try the practice of scheduling in self-nourishing acts throughout your week (or even every day!) that nurture your physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. I first heard of this term many years ago in the book Positive Energy by Judith Orloff MD, however it is only this year that I have written a list of my own self-nourishing acts and begun to schedule these into my week. Scheduling is key here because if you don’t plan the week you want, you’ll get the one you’re given.

Self-nourishing acts (SNAs) are activities that help you to recalibrate, relax and renew your energy – to purely experience pleasure in your life. Because of the pleasure derived from SNAs they calm the nervous system and quieten stress response hormones. They can lift your mood and give you a more positive outlook – particularly if you are stuck in the daily grind of travel to work, work all day, travel home from work, make dinner for the family, put kids to bed and sit in front of the TV (or stay up doing school work). Then repeat.

It’s important that when you participate in an SNA that you savour the pleasure of it – with all of your senses. This will truly keep you in the present moment experience of it. Don’t rush through it, worrying about what you need to get done – let it sink in.

My own list of SNAs is as follows:

  • Reading in the hammock (or just laying);
  • Meditating;
  • A long yoga session at home or on the beach;
  • Yoga Nidra;
  • A hot bath with a face mask;
  • Massage (even self-massage can be nourishing – though I prefer someone else to do it!);
  • A cup of chai on my back deck with some dark choccy macadamias (and my dogs);
  • Time with a friend without our kids;
  • Surfing before work;
  • Paddle-boarding or bushwalking; and,
  • Listening to calming or uplifting music.

Some of these are rare treats but others I schedule in regularly and they cost nothing. Importantly, as you can see, most involve time alone (particularly vital if you spend all day with a class of children and go home to your own children). They are things I love to do and know that I feel good after. I truly value them and they make me feel more alive – bringing me back to my centre and re-energised.

Your list of SNAs may look very different as different things nourish different people. We are not energised by the same things but I would recommend some time in nature as part of your list. Once you devise your list and begin to schedule them in, really take note of how your body and spirit respond. Maybe something that starts off on your list (something that you think you love to do) might need removing after you notice your reaction to it – maybe it actually drains you.

I encourage you to start your list of SNAs for the new school term. Stick the list on the fridge and tick next to each one when you participate in it to keep track of how often you are nourishing yourself with things you love to do.

Emma Waters is a primary school teacher of 13 years currently working in the Catholic system in the Diocese of Lismore and formerly in the Broken Bay Diocese in Sydney. She is a mother and a long time yoga practitioner (having studied for several months in India in her twenties), surfer and meditation student. Emma is passionate about healthy living and finding life balance within the teaching profession – which is always a work in progress. She believes in the healing power of nature and the necessity of stillness every day for students and teachers alike. Emma is the creator of and providing resources for calm and clarity in the classroom.


Send this to a friend