By: Tom Goulding
Working in education is demanding. Much of this burden falls on teachers to deliver an effective and useful curriculum for a young student base while keeping them engaged. Even if you’re the most well-versed and experienced educator in your field, you need to develop lessons that speak to young minds and their needs.
And sometimes that can take longer than you think it should.
Burnout happens to everyone. Life keeps moving, especially on the days you want it to move a little slower — meaning curling up on the couch with your favorite Ben & Jerry’s to catch up on the latest episode of “Succession” instead of putting together lessons for the next week.
As we enter a new school year, let’s talk about how you can combat the 'End of Summer Blues' and pace yourself as the year continues.
The truth is, everyone is running a little hot
There's recent evidence that both students and teachers are stressed more than in recent years and that makes perfect sense — in the wake of a global pandemic, there are still plenty of things to get worked up about. Coming back to school can be a major lift for you and your students as you interact on subjects that matter. Before we start into a few takeaways for combating burnout, the biggest takeaway would be “Focus on what you can control.” It’s a big world — you don’t have to bear all its weight on your shoulders alone.
1- Create time to do things you enjoy
As much of a no-brainer as this might sound, it has to be said. Finding ways to rest and relax is already something human beings naturally feel the urge to do anyway — otherwise, we would still be living in caves.
Maybe after a long day, you should grab that Ben & Jerry’s and turn something on to watch. You’ve earned it. Take your pet outside in the sun while it’s still warm, read a book or maybe get into your favorite creative outlet — just for you, nothing involved with lessons or grading homework. You’re more likely to do your best work when you’re calm, so be purposeful in creating “me time.”
2- Get your endorphins flowing
Regular exercise improves your sleep and alleviates stress. Again, a bit of a no-brainer. But stay with us here — according to Mayo Clinic, exercise actually increases your energy, resulting in more capacity to meet the challenges of your day. (Or more Netflix. Good for you!)
3- Engage with others, professionally and personally
Doing something simple for someone else, like holding open a door or going the extra mile to engage your less active students can be incredibly rewarding. Giving to others results in feeling more connected to other people, resulting in higher satisfaction and more meaning in your work. Having the purpose of guiding and learning from one another are key ways to find continued satisfaction in what we do as teachers.
Take an interest in your students. We’re all experiencing increasingly complex inner worlds and everyone could always use a friend who wants the best for them, even if they barely interact. This is true anywhere, but especially in our field, good deeds go a long way.
Your work is important but your health matters just as much if not more. Create space for yourself to unwind and your life overall will improve.