Guest Post: Jacqueline Goodburn
You deserve to be okay. Let me say that again. You deserve to be okay. Yes, your principal needs your lesson plans, your students needs your guidance, and your plate is full.
I see you. Well, I see what you allow me to see. Take a moment to consider if you are honest with yourself about how you feel. Teachers are amazing at having a “game face.” It’s necessary; I get it. I suggest that we drop our game face from time to time to get real about how we are feeling.
Stress can motivate us, but it can also become debilitating. There are many factors that teachers cite when asked about their stress: testing, increasing needs of their students, demands from administration, and the elusive work-life balance.
Let’s start by letting go of the myth of work-life balance. I cannot simultaneously be a dutiful daughter, effective colleague, good friend, and attentive wife. My best hope to preserve my mental health is to choose which hat I need to wear at a given time to honor what is most important at that time. Are the lines blurry? Of course they are! I remain a work in progress but find comfort in letting go of being all things to all people all the time.
What else can we do to care for ourselves so we are able to care for others?
Let’s see if we can change the narrative a bit with these suggestions for self-care.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Sleep deprivation impacts your mood, concentration, and your thinking. Going to bed with time to get a solid night’s sleep is not selfish. It is necessary for you to be able to process all the information coming at you and make adjustments throughout your teaching day.
Do you eat your lunch while walking/working? Do you eat alone?
Sometimes a teachers’ lounge can be seen as a place where people complain so you may avoid it for good reason. Isolating yourself too much isn’t good though. Try to find other teachers who share your desire to lift each other up and find a place to share your meal. I hope it’s your teachers’ lounge, but if not, keep looking!
Do you celebrate the positive moments of your day?
Keeping a gratitude journal or stash of positive notes, cards, etc. will give you a place to turn when you hit a tough moment in your day.
What does your self-talk sound like? Are you your own worst critic?
Consider starting or maintaining a practice such as mindfulness that will help you foster your ability to consider thoughts without allowing them to consume you or derail your present moment. Calm.com offers their meditations free to K-12 educators! You can try the Daily Calm that’s just ten minutes out of your day! In our district we have a Mindful Moments group that meets monthly to practice and support each other. Rally your friends to join you. I’ll break a promise to myself long before I break one to a friend, so that accountability can really help!
Do you exercise?
The benefits of exercise are unquestioned. Find a way to work in an activity that you can manage successfully. Again, have friends join you! Our district has Walkabout Wednesdays where we meet in the lobby and are paired up with a random other attendee to just walk and talk. We are moving and connecting-win! Some of the best ideas I’ve ever had have come from simply talking with a fellow educator in an informal way.
The world needs you! What are some ways you take care of yourself?