Why the summer holidays are essential for teacher wellbeing
Holidays are a time to rest, reflect, and recharge. As they come to a close, let’s remind ourselves why summer holidays are essential for teacher wellbeing.
The summer holidays are laden with varied emotions for educators: the sadness of saying goodbye to another class of pupils; the exhaustion after a busy year; the uncertainty around preparing for another one.
That’s why the holidays are a crucial time to hit pause and re-energise following a potentially stressful period. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘fill your cup’? It’s incredibly relevant for teachers: they need to care for their own wellbeing before they can truly support the wellbeing of their pupils.
Here we unpack the (many) reasons why the summer holidays are important for teacher wellbeing.
How the holidays improve teacher wellbeing
After a busy school year, brains need a breather, bodies need a rest, and teachers need to spend time doing the things they love – outside of the classroom!
However, it doesn’t come easily to everyone. Switching off can be tricky, but that’s what makes it necessary. Breaks – and we mean proper breaks – help us manage our stress levels, lower blood pressure, strengthen our sleep patterns, and find more joy and clarity.
For teachers, the benefits of the summer holidays are endless. Here are just five of them:
1. Summer holidays provide an unparalleled opportunity to rest
During term time, there’s no rest. Even when they’re not in the classroom, teachers are constantly planning and preparing for the ‘next thing’.
Though it can be tempting to check emails or plot out ideas for the following term, teachers who neglect to rest over the holidays are actually doing themselves a disservice. Research shows that cognitive performance improves when we give our minds a chance to rest and recuperate. In other words, we may find ourselves making more mistakes and achieving less when we don’t take time to relax.
Taking a break isn’t lazy. It’s imperative.
2. Summer holidays offer time with your loved ones
Let’s face it: teaching doesn’t offer particularly sociable hours. The classroom may be in session for around 32.5 hours per week, but the reality is that teachers work far beyond those hours. This can mean missing special occasions and quality time with loved ones.
A great thing about the summer holidays is that it gives that time back to teachers. They get to do all of the things that they didn’t have a chance to do throughout the term. They get to invest their energy back into their family and friends – and likewise, teachers get to soak up some much deserved love and support in return.
Family BBQ? Count them in. A weekend spent with their best friend’s new baby? They’re there.
This time is precious, and teachers have worked hard for it.
3. Summer holidays are for making new memories
It’s thanks to this extra time and headspace that teachers can also use the summer holidays to craft new memories. Recalling happy memories elicits positive feelings and enhances wellbeing, so by collecting new experiences for the memory bank, we can actually support future happiness and tackle stress.
This is a big deal for educators. While teachers go into (and stay in) the profession because they love to teach, teaching isn’t an easy job by any means. There will always be daily challenges, but if teachers can reflect on the amazing memories that they made during the summer holidays, perhaps it will help to ease the pressure – even if it’s only a little.
As a bonus, they get to have a great time in the process!
4. Summer holidays = time for new hobbies
When was the last time that you tried a new hobby?
When you’ve got a ‘to do’ list longer than your arm, it can seem counterintuitive to start up a brand new and time consuming hobby. Cue another excellent benefit of the summer holidays: time to focus on yourself and have fun with it!
The holidays are the time to give paddleboarding a try, or to attend that dance class that you’ve had your eye on. Perhaps give Mary Berry a run for her money! Research shows that people who spend time on enjoyable leisure activities are less likely to suffer from physical and mental health problems. So, what are you waiting for?
5. The summer holidays can be seriously motivational
We are huge advocates for using the summer holidays to switch off entirely – but it isn’t the only way to spend them. Many teachers find that the stress relief that the holidays bring actually delivers a major dose of motivation.
If you feel called to it, you may choose to spend some of your time off working on your own personal and professional development. Perhaps there’s an area you are extremely passionate about, but you feel like you need to brush up your skills. There’s a high chance that there’s a workshop or CPD offering precisely what you need, helping you to avoid future burnout and perhaps even reigniting your love for your work.
If you’re interested in developing your knowledge of outdoor learning during your break, we offer online training for outdoor learning and play. Discover the core principles of outdoor learning, develop your outdoor primary maths practice, or learn how to take core history activities outdoors at secondary school.
The summer holidays provide teachers with a hard-earned chance to sit back; unwind; and mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare for a new school year.
Remember – self care is not indulgence, and it is certainly nothing to feel guilty about. Enjoy the holidays so that you feel ready and raring for a new school year. You deserve it.