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Let’s face it; teaching is not easy! Rewarding, yes, but it takes a lot of mental and physical effort to keep going in order to reap those rewards. There are days where I just don’t think I can get out of bed to face my 24 students in each class, but my heart makes me do it anyway. In the end, after all of the hard work, results are seen. These results are why teachers like me do what we do. However, it is important for teachers to have balance in their lives. Life balance with any career is crucial to keeping stress at bay and ensuring a nice, healthy overall well-being. For me, I can remember walking out of school and continuing to think about work into the late evening, and it caught up with me in a not-so-good-way. Teachers don’t just clock out and leave work and not worry about what the next day will bring. We can almost predict what the next day will bring, and there is so much on our plates. That is why it is crucial to let it go for the evening and save up the mental and emotional energy for the next school day.
Get Fresh Air
This is a must. I don’t care how I get it, I get it every day. A walk after work, even for 15 minutes, can work wonders to clear my head. No matter how exhausted I am, a brisk walk outside gives me the extra energy to do what tasks or activities I need to do that evening – non-educational, of course. Yes, there are some days when I just go straight home and plop myself on the couch for an hour. Yes, I do fall asleep. But when I wake up, I take the dog for a walk or find a way to spend time on my porch and breathe in the fresh air. This is important to me, and it really helps give me a feeling of renewal, both mentally and physically.
Keep School Work to a Minimum at Home
As teachers, we seem to live and breathe school. From lesson plan ideas to specific student needs, to paperwork, to testing, it can consume us. The keeping up with all data on each student, the meetings, and the actual teaching can lead us to only think about our jobs. I have learned balance is key; I have taught myself to shut my mind off from school once I come home. If I have papers to grade, I do this after a few hours of being home. Okay, let me be honest, usually more than a few hours! I really try to keep evening school work at a minimum, or save it for the weekend. I have learned to maximize my school day so I can do more work there, even if I have to stay after for a bit to get it done.
What do you Love Doing?
Finding other things you enjoy doing can really make a difference in your stress levels. On a weeknight, it is tough to do a time-consuming hobby or go out with friends, but watching a good television show, reading a non-teaching book, or hanging out with the kids or spouse (and pet!) is a wonderful way to de-stress. Whatever it is you enjoy doing on a school night from browsing online to playing vintage video games (guilty!), you should do it!
Develop your Healthy Mindset
I am not a morning person at all. I am not one to get up early and work-out or meditate. Heck, I don’t even get up in time to have a good breakfast! However, if you are a morning person, you may find that waking up 30 minutes earlier for a brisk walk, in-home workout, or meditation may really work for you. Everyone is different. I prefer to sleep until the last possible second. In order to develop a healthy mindset for me, I use my late evenings before bed to unwind. I take a spa bath every night (okay, a bubble bath), do my hair, and lay out everything for the next day. I have a growth mindset habit of sitting in my dark room with candles and taking ten minutes to reflect on my day and thinking about my goals. I choose to say my prayers at this time as well. No matter how it is done, finding time in a quiet, peaceful place is essential to developing a healthy mind and spirit. And there is really no “right” or “wrong” way; that is what makes us all unique!
Hang with Teacher Friends
This may be contradictory or oxymoron-ish, but somehow being friends with your teacher-mates can help you remain relaxed. I don’t know why this is, except for the fact that teachers have personality traits that simply connect with one another. I have a close circle of friends, and all of them are teachers. We don’t teach at the same school, either, but we are just very close friends who “get” one another. We spend time together as a group or just a few at a time. We go to dinner, and every few weeks we have “girls’ night” where we watch a movie and eat a bunch of snacks. We laugh. We don’t talk about school at all, and we just have wonderful conversation and have a great time together.
No matter what, taking time away from your teaching is a must. While it is important to love your job, it is also important to love you, take time for you, and love life outside of your job. When you take a step back and look at life, it is actually shorter than it seems; time does fly by, that’s for sure! Taking time for you, your family, and friends is essential in living a truly fulfilling life!
by Beth Hedrick