"Are you stressed out?" ... "Ugh, I'm so stressed." ... "Today was SO stressful."
The S word. I hear it all over the hallway, the break room, the dismissal line - basically anywhere that two teachers are colliding. It's March, and the beginning of THE TESTS. So we hurl funny memes and inspiring quotes and any chocolate we can find at our colleagues' flagging morale, keeping our tired eyes on the number of days until the school year is over. Just a few days ago a teacher told me that she got a flat tire on the way to school, and she was overjoyed that it happened, because she had a quiet hour to herself.
... How did we get here?
Survey after survey shows that teaching is a brutifally (brutally / beautifully) rewarding profession - mentally, physically, and emotionally. It's not hard (or fun) to list the reasons why teachers are struggling. The hard part is figuring out what to do about it.
I burned out during my third year of teaching. I found myself throwing up in the student bathroom most mornings and most afternoons, confused why my body was suddenly not a fan of math or reading instruction. I couldn't make it stop, and I ultimately had to leave my position. It was gut wrenching. Luckily, my gut recovered.
In the aftermath I found myself talking to dozens of other educators who, instead of being even remotely surprised by my story, started recounting their eerily similar private health battles. The list of ailments is a testament to the havoc that stress can wreak: panic attacks, depression, daily headaches, autoimmune diseases, chronic back pain... not to mention any of the acute illnesses caused by the classroom germ factory.
I returned to teaching. Some things got easier, and also the stress didn't magically disappear. What helped me, and continues to help me, are mindfulness and yoga. These are the practices I'm committed to sharing with as many other educators as I can.
I'm creating the Balanced Teachers community to give teachers the tools they need to light up, instead of burning out.
If you're with me on this journey, leave a comment. Share something that helps you relieve stress, including but not limited to hilarious student stories (which are my favorite thing on the planet). I would love to hear from you.
All the best,