Whether you’re a new teacher or a veteran,
try these tips for taking care of yourself and staying energized throughout the school year.
If you’re a new teacher, maybe you’ll feel affirmed to know that researchers have found that the hardest stretch of the school year, especially for novice teachers, is late October to Thanksgiving break. By that time of the year, the rush and excitement of the start has faded, you’re tired, and you’re not yet seeing the impact of all the hard work you’re putting in—you aren’t yet seeing leaps in student learning.
Let me quickly define burnout. Burnout is physical and emotional exhaustion. It can manifest as low-level depression. It’s what happens as a result of unrelenting stress—both physical and emotional. And you can prevent it. You can recognize the indicators of burnout, you can boost your emotional resilience, and you can draw boundaries around what you do so that you can tend to your physical and emotional well-being.
Whether you’re in your first or 15th year of teaching, here are 10 tips for staying energized, at any point in the school year:
1. Care for your body. Prioritize sleep above all else. Aim for eight hours a night. There are many connections between sleep and emotional wellness. Eat nutritious food. Move your body. You know this, but I need to remind you.
2. Carve out downtime and honor it religiously. Make sure you take at least one weekend day off. During the week, be sure to stop working by 8 pm. You need to rest. Working yourself to the bone or martyring yourself to the cause is useless. It won’t ultimately serve you or your students.
3. Build in micro-moments of renewal during the day. Every hour, or at least a couple times a day, sit still for one minute. Close your eyes. Imagine all your stress draining out of the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.
4. Cultivate realistic optimism. Resilient people are optimistic. Remember that challenge and struggle are temporary, not permanent. Being optimistic has nothing to do with being a Pollyanna or denying reality. It’s about holding to the belief that positive change is always possible. It’s about seeing the glass as half full and half empty.