Teacher burnout is something that every teacher has heard about and most of us have experienced. We get worn down, exhausted, and frustrated. Our to-do lists never seem to improve and our motivation dwindles every minute.
Feeling burnt out sucks! I have felt it before and it took me a while to make some necessary changes to my teacher life in order to help avoid it in the future. Sometimes all it takes is a little reset and you are back on track for a good year.
Here are 5 things that you can do if/when you need a reset.
One thing that seems to slip away quickly is my time to sit and think. When I get burnt out and frazzled, I have a hard time processing the swirling ideas around me. If you are also this way, stop. Literally, stop.
Have a seat in a quiet room, turn down the lights, and take a deep breath. Allow your mind to clear itself and meditate on the moment you are in. There are several benefits to taking time to meditate.
Meditating can allow you to gain new perspectives, focus on the present moment, reduce stress, and ease negative emotions that were building.
The benefits of meditation are not just going to affect the minutes you spend doing it but will stick with you through the rest of the day. It can be difficult to clear your mind when you first begin, yet as you practice it will become easier to go into yourself and relax.
I don’t meditate all the time, but I can always tell when I need to. It has always helped me regain control of my emotions and mindset.
Time to journal! Sometimes the best thing to do is write down your emotions and thoughts. Instead of letting them get bunched up inside you, or taking out your frustration on your spouse, write down what is on your mind. Often all it takes to help alleviate negative emotions is the feeling of sending it out into the world. Journaling can also allow you to quickly move on and leave everything that needs to be left behind, behind.
I journal often, but I also write a lot of lists. This is something that I have used my entire life. Writing lists helps me to manage stress and prioritize what really needs to get done. If you are feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, write a to-do list of everything you think needs to get done. Seeing a visual list can help you figure out what to prioritize and start working on one thing at a time.
Burn out can lead to a backed-up to-do list and the feeling that you just can’t get a grip or get ahead. But you can!!
Have everything on your to-do list written down, including sweeping and cleaning your desk (another important thing that can help stress). Once you have the visual list in front of you, work on ONE thing at a time and start crossing them off.
Set aside a certain amount of time so that you aren’t spending your entire weekend working on grades or lesson plans. Work during that set time on one task on your list. Start with the priorities that will need to be done first. Sometimes knowing that the most important parts of the list are done will alleviate some stress you are carrying.
It is also important to note here that multi-tasking is not always a winning trait. Teachers are profoundly good at multitasking (Johnny needs a pencil, Tracy has a question about the homework, the phone is ringing, the slides are on the wrong day, and the wifi isn’t working) but when we reach burnout status, focusing on one thing at a time is how we begin to crawl out of that hole.
Go for a walk, do yoga, work out at the gym. Physical activity changes the chemical makeup of our brains. Movement increases blood flow and releases endorphins (the happy hormones). A boost of endorphins makes people feel happier and can block out the negative emotions and daily stresses.
Plus! Regular physical exercise can help you sleep better at night. What teacher doesn’t need sleep?
When you are feeling burnt out, find ways to lighten the load. Is there a place where you can say no? Can you ask for help on a project or with lesson plans? Maybe there is time in your schedule where you can give yourself and the students a break. Finding ways to lighten the load and take a break not only helps you but will help your students as well.
Burnout is tough and something that all teachers feel eventually. What matters most is that when that moment comes, you reset. Take a break away from the work, be with family, spend time with a hobby, move, and give yourself time to clear your mind. All of these things allow us to see clearly what we need to do and to realize that not everything is as important as we make it seem.
You are not alone and we are all here to support each other.