By Lynne Herr
NETA Board member and lifetime over-committer
Anyone else surprised to look at the calendar to discover IT’S ALREADY AUGUST when it feels like it was just yesterday when you walked out of school with the WHOLE SUMMER in front of you?
If you’re like many educators, you have lots of mixed feelings about August: that in-between time when you reluctantly say good-bye to the end of long sunshine-filled days that let you use the bathroom at a whim and have a long, leisurely lunch on a patio with a friend. Time for vacation and stay-cation; bike rides and beaches. But your teacher heart also starts to swell with the anticipation of the shiny new crop of kiddos that will soon be lined up at your classroom door sporting fresh new haircuts and backpacks full of potential. Kids you will spend the next year nurturing to the next rung on the ladder to adulthood, while they leave you with a few more gray hairs and a proud smile.
But it’s not too late! There’s still time for YOU! And there will always be time for you if you choose to prioritize it.
Oh, I know . . .you have the carpool, and piano lessons and meal prep and laundry and fall sports meetings and professional development and you still didn’t get to that closet that you swore you’d finally get organized this summer.
Take the advice you’d give a friend – if you can’t find time each day to take care of yourself, you need to re-evaluate. You and your family and friends deserve a healthy, happy you.
If you don’t take good care of yourself, burnout is barreling toward you like a runaway train. Burnout is a serious problem for educators. Psychology Today defines burnout as “chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” Sound familiar?
So let’s start with something that’s actually doable. Have you had time to check your Facebook feed today? Watch mindless TV? Peruse Pinterest? Then you have time. You just have to change how you use it. Take a few minutes for yourself each day to do something to quiet your mind and fill your soul. Some ideas:
- Get up 10 minutes earlier to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or tea in a place that brings you joy – your patio or deck, a rocking chair next to the fireplace or at a kitchen table that has a beautiful fresh-picked flower to welcome you.
- Take a few minutes to pray or meditate each evening or morning to sweep out the lingering irritations from yesterday or give your spirit a fresh start for the day.
- Breathe. If you’re prone to anxiety or feeling stressed, focused breathing can convince your body and brain that you are safe and well. Try 2 minutes of this pattern: Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, then breathe out for a count of 8. Repeat for a minute or two. If your brain is still swirling, count those breaths. Focus on the counting while you breathe in peace, breathe out stress.
- Walk around the block and notice the details. Use all your senses – what do you see? Hear? Smell? Where is the moon? Take a night time walk and ook for some stars.
- Hug your people. Or hug yourself. Studies have shown health benefits of hugs:
- Hugs are calming
- Hugs are good for your heart
- Hugs make you happy
- Hugs can help soothe your fears
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is becoming an important curriculum in our schools. Modeling these healthy behaviors to your students, and being transparent with them about your efforts, is so powerful.
This year, the Nebraska Association for the Gifted (NAG) has partnered with teacher Dené Erin Oglesby form Thornwood Yoga to offer free full-day or half-day workshops for HAL teachers and their students. Visit the Thornwood Yoga site to learn more and schedule your workshop.
Self-Care Mindfulness Apps for Teachers and Students
Calm – meditation and sleep
Stop, Breathe, Think – Ranging from guided mindfulness audio tracks, to videos on yoga and acupressure, and animated mindful games, you will have many options at your ﬁngertips
Insight Timer – offers the “largest library of free meditations on earth” with more than 20,000 titles