You have a meaningful job as a teacher but everyday can add up to a heavy load of stress. It’s not plausible to hit the spas every week, so what can you do? Try out these strategies to enjoy a long, rewarding career instead of cutting one short due to burn-out.
Meditating doesn’t have to be time consuming. Or a crazy elaborate activity.
It can be as simple as closing your eyes and practicing long, deep breathing from the stomach.
Noticing how you feel in the present moment creates a space for you to choose more intentionally how you want to respond to your stress rather than letting a state of anxiety take over.
Mindfulness requires practice and consistency, so don’t feel discouraged if you think meditating isn’t working from the get-go.
You can also try incorporating meditation into the classroom! Mindfulness and stress-management techniques are useful for everyone and Calm even has a program called Calm’s Schools Initiative for K-12 schools! Calm is an app that helps teach meditation through guided sessions and it has started an initiative to empower teachers with mindfulness tools all for free!
2. Unplug from your devices
You don’t have to check your email all the time! It’s important to take time to unplug.
In fact, studies have shown that excessive computer and cell phone has led to a sharp increase in sleep disorders, mental illness, and stress.
So, don’t start mornings immediately looking at your phone. The bright screens strains your eyes first thing in the morning and often makes your morning routine behind schedule.
Instead, spend your first moments awake on you. Set your intentions for the day, maybe even write a gratitude list.
The point is to set the pace and momentum for your day by having an excellent morning routine. Hectic morning = hectic days. Calm morning= calm days.
At night, make sure to turn off all devices at least 30 minutes before bed to de-stress. Those brightly lit devices can keep you awake and interrupt your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to sleep.
You can take this time and do absolutely nothing - don’t feel guilty about it!
3. Eat Healthy
Ugh, we know you KNOW this but it’s really important! Healthy eating can improve your energy, productivity level, and your mental health.
Start small. You don’t have to overhaul your entire eating routine overnight. Small, smart changes over time get you results.
A great way to start eating healthy on a long-term basis is to get in the habit of prepping your weekday meals during the weekend.
Meal prep isn’t the easiest thing to get into, so check out this article for nutritious and quick ideas when you’re a busy teacher on the go!
For the days that you’re too tired to prep your food, don’t feel guilty about buying healthy frozen entrees.
For meals when you get back home, consider investing in a slow cooker so that when you put in freezer style meals in right when you arrive home, dinner will be ready in a few hours.
4. Get moving
And we mean more than just moving boxes of papers or supplies from your car to the classroom!
Along with nutrition, being physically active helps your body release mood-boosting endorphins, which help to fight depression and anxiety.
Studies also have proved that physical activity boosts creativity and mental energy.
You don’t need to have a full workout regime; a simple walk works well too.
Take a walk during lunch, a planning period, or after school. If not, make time over the weekends for a leisurely walk in the neighborhood and don’t think about anything you need to do. Just enjoy your walk!
Really pressed for time? Sneak in some of these simple exercises while at work like contracting core muscles during a school assembly or just doing 60 seconds of strenuous exercise.
5. Make time to sleep
Get enough hours of shut-eye to feel refreshed every morning.
Some nights, it may feel impossible to sleep when there’s a lot of assignments to read and grade. It’s alright if there’s a day or two where you don’t get enough sleep, but in the long-run make it a mission everyday to get in bed by a set time.
Still not getting quality sleep?
Try drinking eight ounces of tart cherry juice, which has melatonin, an antioxidant that can improve sleep.
However, make sure that you’re not drinking it within 4 hours before your bedtime or eating during that time either. Instead, try taking a warm bath or doing some simple yoga.
Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Once you incorporate even the smallest acts of self-care into your daily life, you can easily manage your stress levels.