(From a fellow teacher committed to avoiding burnout.)
Hey teachers, it’s that time of year where days are shorter and it gets darker earlier. The anticipation of a brand-new year is waning, and the realities of day to day teacher workload are starting to pile up. With benchmarks and end of the report period responsibilities approaching many of us may feel like we are in constant survival mode trying to shovel water out of a boat sinking into the sea. When things start to become overwhelming, how do you take care of yourself to ensure you show up the biggest and best for your kiddos? For me, it looked like recommitting to the following things:
- Prioritizing big rocks – Reflect on your big goal for the year. Then consider, what are your three biggest steps each week to bring you to that goal? Make sure your everyday tasks align with that and prioritize activities that are most important for achieving that goal. Setting goals helps daily tasks feel more manageable, and allows you to set aside time for what is really important.
- Find your tribe – My first year teaching a former colleague encouraged me to find a “Marigold” in the building. It’s easy to find yourself venting with a colleague at the water cooler and spiraling into negativity. Instead, make an active effort to find the most positive person in the building. Surround yourself with joyful, supportive, encouraging teachers. Their positivity and good vibes will rub off on you. Fill your personal garden with marigolds so you grow, and so when you encounter those weeds you can pull them into the sunshine.
- Reconnect with your External Network – One of my favorite things about a day off is having the opportunity to connect with things that I enjoy doing, like taking a yoga class or reading a book from the latest National Book Award list. Reconnect with your network outside of school, with people who know you as you, not just the person who is always willing to make extra copies. I find this helps me connect with my personal core values and reminds me why I got started in education in the first place.
- Gratitude journal – Multiple research studies have found there is a direct correlation between practicing gratitude and your overall well-being. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present and take a step back to identify the goodness in our life. Consider keeping a gratitude journal and writing down at least three good things that happen every day. You’ll find that even on your toughest days, you have something to celebrate.
- Mantras – A mantra is a word or repeated phrase often rooted in spirituality. For me, I have three mantras written at the front of my notebook and use them as a reminder to stay grounded when things get tough. My favorite go-to mantras at the moment are:
Everything always will work out
I’ve survived all of the difficult moments of my past
All situations are temporary
By taking time to take care of yourself, you will be able to be your best self for your students. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so take a breath and recommitment to your most important student: you. Search for the good, relish in the joyful moments, and watch the positivity grow.