Days can be long, especially during the winter months when there days off seem nonexistent. For many of us, the days are cold and nights are long. This won’t last for long because before we know it, it will be spring and kids will be playing outside after dinner. But for now, it can be tough.
Students are restless because they’ve been indoors, state testing is on the horizon and you’re still waiting to be observed by your administrator. This is the time of the year where you sometimes feel like you just want to crawl into a hole and hibernate until summer—without having to do lesson plans of course.
The thing is, we know we must grind through. And you always do. It never ceases to amaze me how you are able to persevere through this season. Despite your students’ behavior. Despite catching the flu. Despite, despite, despite.
You always make it.
But at what cost?
Oftentimes your mental health pays the price because you feel like you are constantly in survival mode.
The days when your lesson isn’t coming together or that one student has plucked your last nerve or you just plain feel like crap. We all have them. But teachers you are always on and I know these days come around more often than you’d like to admit.
While I can’t help with your lesson or calm your student or help you feel better physically, I do have something that can help you make it through the tough days without losing it. It doesn’t cost a thing and you have everything you need with you at this very moment.
Let me explain.
You remember when you were a kid and you were able to magically take yourself to far off lands? Maybe you were a Star Wars fan and you imagined yourself fighting alongside Luke Skywalker. Or maybe you loved Harry Potter so you pretended you were Hermione and you were able to cast spells on people. Regardless of whoever you imagined yourself to be, you had the ability to take yourself away from wherever you were just by using your imagination.
You still can.
When you’re having a rough day, in a bad way or just want to get away (hey that rhymed) just try the following:
Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to When You Get Home
It doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive or involve anyone else. Maybe you can’t wait to watch the latest episode of Vikings while eating a bag of chips. Or you could excited about the workout you are going to get in. The one you have been putting off for days. Today is the day you take that pilates class, run that mile or lift some weights. Maybe it’s a beautiful day and you want to just put on your sweatpants and take your dog for a long, peaceful walk.
Whatever you do, each morning when you wake up, give yourself at least one thing to look forward to when you get home. Of course, you might have schoolwork to do. Yes, you have to cook dinner or maybe you work a 2nd job. Regardless, give yourself one thing that is yours.
So when your day starts dragging or that student starts whining or your lesson starts bombing, just remember—in a few hours it will be your time. And nobody can touch that. It is amazing what a little positive visualization can do to your current state. It’s magical.
Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to This Weekend
Okay, maybe you need more. In that case, begin to plan something fun for the weekend. You have Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Most likely you have some type of obligation or event that will take up a portion of your time. But the rest of the weekend? Is yours.
Plan to hangout with friends. Nothing elaborate. Maybe you order pizza, drink wine and watch your favorite John Hughes movies (did I just age myself?). Or maybe you and your significant other plan a date that you’ve been putting off for a while. It could be dinner and a movie or it could just be picking up take-out and watching whatever is on Netflix.
Some of you may be introverted, like me. You love the company of your loved ones but you recharge best when you are alone. The thought of the morning lying in bed, reading books and taking two naps may sound like Heaven.
Whatever you do, give yourself something to look forward to this weekend. Trust me, and you know this, there will be times this week when you will need to remind yourself that better times lie ahead. This is not a knock on your students, your school or your administration. This is simply real life.
Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to This Summer
Here is where you can really go crazy. Plan big. Go wild. I know it’s only January and with only a few days off between now and the end of the school year, it’s easy to get in a rut. Here’s how you are going to pull yourself out.
Start to plan the best summer ever.
You have several months this summer and what you do with it is up to you. No administrators telling you what to do (I’m one and I get it), no students giving you grief and no lesson plans to write or papers to grade. I know, I know. Some of you teach summer school. But it’s different and it’s usually only part of the summer and half a day.
So, get thinking about how to make your summer awesome! You only have a finite number of summers left. Take advantage of this one and plan it, dream about it and most of all—look forward to it.
Try to balance fun with relaxation. Excitement with calm. Friends and family with alone-time. Travel with staycations. This is the one that is going to get you through the testing season. That time of the year that just plain s… I’m trying to keep this clean.
You got this!
Teachers, what you what you do is incredibly difficult and it seems it is getting more difficult with each day and each new law that is passed. Many of which are not taking your physical and mental well-being into consideration. I’m just being honest.
Just remember this week when you begin to feel stressed, tired and frustrated—take yourself to another place. Think about your evening, your weekend and your summer. It won’t make your problems go away, but it will take you to a better place.
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
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