Teacher burnout is real — and it is easy to feel like you’ve used up every bit of your energy and reserve at the end of a stressful semester or school year.
Here are some ways to get back your energy.
It happens to all of us — we have a stressful year of teaching. Maybe it was the parents, maybe there was a handful of students that made us lose our cool, maybe it was an administrator or fellow teacher…or maybe your personal life was out of control.
Or maybe it was a little of everything.
And we know that sustained stress is not healthy.
But, before you throw in the teaching towel, remember that every teacher has a “year” (sometimes more than one!).
So when the year ends or you have an extended break, it’s time for you to de-stress, really relax, and get your energy back. Prevent teacher burnout.
But how do you do that?
Protect your time
Take a look at your calendar.
Is it already filling up with doctor appointments, plans, and meetings?
While you’ve got to get many of those things taken care of during your break (what a great time to get your mammogram. Don’t put that off!!), you can also block off some time for yourself.
Mark off a few hours a week that are just for you. No, you cannot clean out the closet or go to the grocery store.
Do something that is just for you. Just for fun. Something that will fill you with joy.
Paint (but not the house!), read a fun novel, go swimming, paint your nails (again, not the house!), play in the garden (notice, that’s play!), exercise. Do something that is fun for you.
Fill the well
Think about yourself as a well. At the end of the school year? Oh my — teachers have drained that well dry!! And that is when teacher burnout becomes a reality.
If you don’t fill that well, you won’t want to be a teacher!
It’s time to fill it back up!
How do you do it?
What energizes you? It is having a leisurely breakfast on the patio? Taking a walk with your dog? Spending time curled up with a book? Pretending you are on a cooking show and trying new recipes?
Go back to that calendar and box off time for you to fill your well. If you are constantly taking energy, happiness, enthusiasm out, you will have nothing left to give.
I think many teachers feel like they put their students before their own family. I certainly have felt guilty of this!
If you have children who are on break with you, make the most of it. And that doesn’t mean extravagant vacations. Get out the coloring books, paint, and markers, and “do art” with your kids. Participate in library reading programs. Spend a day in your pajamas … and play video games with them.
And don’t forget your spouse, partner, or significant other! Remember that all the people you love have their own “wells,” and you can help fill theirs.
Take care of yourself
Don’t forget that good nutrition and exercise provide a lifetime worth of benefits!
And we also know these seem to be the first things to go when we’re in the midst of teaching!
Reset your diet, recommit to daily exercise — like taking a walk or doing yoga. If you’re able to build some healthy habits when you are on a break from school, they will be easier to continue when you return.
Do you feel guilty when you’re not buzzing around doing all the things??
I do! But resist the laundry to be folded, the dishes in the sink, and the dust bunnies for at least an hour and really and truly RELAX!
Don’t try to clean all the closets
My teacher friends say things like, “This summer, I’m organizing my closets!”
Well, that sounds great and productive, but will there be time to “fill that well” when the closets are clean?
Don’t make your “to do” summer list so long that you don’t feel like you’ve had a break. That is a sure way to experience teacher burnout.
Consider making a “done” list and rejoice in what you completed over your break rather than focusing on all the things you haven’t.
Make a bucket list of FUN things to do — things that will fill your well this break!
And, when you’re ready to get back into school, planning, and all that goes with it — you’ll have energy to do so!
Need more inspiration?
I have monthly ideas and tips for what to teach. Take a look at the ideas for what to teach in September!
Wishing you a restful break!