Stop, Drop, and Roll With It: Teacher Burnout Prevention
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Tired. Exhausted. Stressed. Sad. Done. These are the words that stand out for a teacher at the end of the school year. For those of us that give everything we have, these last few months can seem like an eternity. No matter how hard we try to pace ourselves, when we’re dedicated to giving students our all, sometimes that doesn’t leave much when April rolls around. Every teacher needs to approach the end of the year in a way that works best for him or her, but here are some of the things that have helped me make it to summer vacation.
Finding a hobby that allows you to get away from education-related stuff is important. It’s great to have this hobby as a regular part of your life to keep your stress levels down over the course of the year. This hobby doesn’t have to be a solo activity. It could be something that you do with your spouse, friends, children, or whomever you want. The idea is devoting time to something (other than teaching) that makes you happy. For me, I love to work on my pond in the warmer months, and I’ll play video games when the weather is cold. My son is getting older now, so he can play some of my games with me, and he loves to help with the pond. These activities are my time away from the emails, grading, lesson planning, and other things that can suck the life out of me. My hobby time gives me the energy to make it through the school year. Find the thing that works for you and devote time to it. If you do, you’ll find yourself much happier by the end of the school year.
This one seems silly, but it really is the best way to help cut the stress. Find the things that make you laugh and do them. Watch that funny movie, play silly games with your kids, and be goofy yourself. These little acts of silliness can really lower stress levels and make people happier overall. TheMayo Clinic lists many of the positives of laughter when it comes to stress. The short-term benefit of laughter can “stimulate many organs, activate and relieve your stress response, and soothe tension.” The long-term impact of laughter can “improve your immune system, relieve pain, increase personal satisfaction, and improve your mood.” These are scientific reasons for laughing that should not be ignored by teachers as we look to de-stress before we burn out. Think back to the happier times in class and the silliness that surrounded it. Look to recreate those fun times again. The laughter will make a huge difference as you make it to the end of the school year.
These are just some of the ways that teachers can prevent burnout during the school year. We have one of the hardest jobs in the world, plus we have to maintain a family and our own mental health. It’s not easy, but there are ways to make it a bit easier so that we won’t be shells of our former selves when the school year draws to a close.
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