With all the hats we wear as teachers, life can get very stressful fast. Especially if you have a life outside of teaching. But there are a few effective ways to combat all the stress we have in our lives as teachers.
The Quickest Win
Take a mental health day. Like for real. If you about to hit a kid or admin, take tomorrow off. If you’re about to cry in front of the students, take the day off. If you’re going to write back a very aggressive email to parent, take tomorrow off. If you’re starting to question your career, well you know what to do.
I see so many teachers out there trying to be super human. “No, I’ll wait til the next holiday”. But I promise you it will come out in some sort of other form. Maybe you start snacking more to deal with the immediate stress. Maybe you snap quicker with those around you. The list goes on. Don’t let it come out in other ways, take it head on.
Take tomorrow off, sleep in, re-group, binge watch whatever you want, and I promise you will come back being more at peace. That’s a promise.
Taking care of yourself, is the most important part of longevity. Most professional athletes know this. They ask a lot of their bodies, but know if they don’t do some deep recovery, they will not last long in their profession. Seattle Seahawks quarterback, spends over $1 million dollars a year taking care of his body alone. He has two full-time chefs, a full-time personal trainer, a full-time doctor, and a physical therapist on stand by. The point is, if you don’t take care of yourself and your body, you won’t last long at whatever you’re doing full-time.
Take a mental health day!
Make A List
After you have rested and reset your mind, write down everything that stresses you out at work, everything. Then put it to the side, and look over it the next day.
When you come back to your list, you need to put those stressors in three bins; delete, delegate, and fix. If one of your stressors is, that you feel you are the worst person for the job, put that in the delete bin. You are the perfect person for the job, because you are already doing it. It would take months, if not years for someone else to come in and bring them up to speed, where you’re already at.
The next stressor might be, “there’s always a mess after a certain time of day in the classroom, that the janitor never takes care of.” Delegate it! I myself have a computer classroom that gets used by another class, every other day. Whenever they leave, there’s always computers unplugged from their keyboards, or electricity, or their monitors. So instead of me getting upset all the time about it, I hired a student to solve the problem(I delegated it to him). He is one of my most helpful and trusted students, so I knew he could do it, and they he wanted to. But I also incentivized the delegation. When he has completed putting all the computers plugs back in, I give him a handful of candy. I also allow him to do random show and tells once a month. It’s a win win for both him and I. I no longer chase the teacher who uses my classroom down to tell him to watch his kids better. I no longer gripe about it to my boss. And the best part is, that my autistic/OCD student feels so acclimated to my classroom environment because he’s kind of in charge of the proper maintenance of our computers.
Now on to the fix bin. If there is something truly bothering you, that you can’t delete or delegate, it’s best you have to take it head on. I am really bad at checking my mail box. I’m so busy with my day and have a lot of things going on, that I’m like I don’t need to do other peoples jobs. But, that’s not a good mentality for me to have. When I don’t check my box, there are papers waiting from other teammates that need to get signed, so they can do their job. I finally had to meet these people in person, and realize, they’re a humand being like myself, so I need to treat them like myself. I put an event, on repeat, in my phone for every Tuesday during conference. It takes me a couple of minutes to do, and most of the time there’s nothing there. But when there is, I get it in on time, and I don’t have to worry about it in the back of my mind.
Find/Appreciate Your Work Buddy
I’m kind of a shut in. I like to keep to myself, do my job, and just go home and rest. But when I have ventured out of my classroom on PD days, and tried to meet other teachers, I’ve made some pretty cool friends. I teach high school, so I have a big campus with a lot of teachers. Most of the teachers I have met, I didn’t care for much. Some of them were super serious, and others were completely closed off, or always, and I mean always complaining. But the few I did meet, I LOVE!
We recently had a close work friend, whose husband had a near death heart attack. But when we were all told, we banded together to help her out in anyway. There were like ten teachers they helped her with meals for the week, one teacher found her a daycare for her little one, and my wife and I covered her meals for the whole weekend. She said she had never felt that much love in her workplace before. She was so appreciative she started crying.
I wish I could say that for another teacher I know. She was going through some similar problems, but no one reached out, or helped in anyway. But to be fair, this teacher never ventured outside her comfort zone, never went around to meet new people, so in turn she never really had a relationship with any of her colegues.
I’m not saying go out and make friends so they can take care of you at your lowest. What I am saying is that when you are a part of a deep community, you feel more appreciated and taken care of.
There are different ways to destress as a teacher, but these are my top three to get through the school year. I hope this helps you in your long career of teaching.
Also, I just want you to know you are loved and I personally thank you for all you do for your students.