Don't Let it Get to You
You know that you are not crazy, that there are too many demands of you as a teacher. You might even wonder why the heck you got into this profession. In fact, studies show that as many as 50 percent of teachers leave the profession by the 5th year of teaching. Surely job stress must play a part in this. For those of us who stick it out (even if only to the end of this year) there are things we can do to make our lives a little easier.
- Have a positive attitude. Remember that even though you might be dealing with an unmovable bureaucracy, an unsupportive parent, or a belligerent student, they cannot affect your feelings or make you angry unless you allow them to. You are in control of your own emotions. Here are some suggestions for turning negative thoughts into positive ones.
- Do not try to accomplish too many tasks in one day. Part of the problem of job stress is that it is often a cycle. You have so many things to accomplish in one day that the quality of your work declines which means that not only do you have a lot to do but you are bothered at your results. So instead, prioritize and fill up only half the day with things you want to get done. The fact is, you will probably work all day to complete that which you think you can do in half of a day.
- Relax through stretching and exercise. Exercise releases endorphins that help give you a feeling of peacefulness. Further, it gives you time to clear your mind of all worries. You will be doing something for yourself, and no one else.
- Get plenty of sleep. Take a test to see if you getting enough. Being well-rested helps problems seem less important. If you having trouble sleeping, you can find some resources here.
- Leave your teaching at school as often as possible. Obviously, this seems impossible to do but find ways to gain valuable personal time. Try to get your schoolwork done at school. Remember that nothing is more important than your mental well-being.
- Get yourself a hobby. If there is something that you love to do, spend some time on it each day to take your mind away from teaching.
- Find things to laugh at. Watch a funny movie. Tell yourself a joke you never heard before. Laughter helps get through so much.
- Give yourself positive messages. I always repeat the same phrase when times get tough: 'This, too, shall pass.' Try it, it works! If you are a religious person, pray! Give all your worries to someone greater than yourself.
- Finally, remember that teachers are important and valuable to our society. Find comfort in the awesome role you are playing in many people's lives. Remember those you have touched over the years. One way to celebrate the high points is to create an 'I Make a Difference Scrapbook'.
For other ideas about how to deal with teacher burnout, check out these resources.