It feels like too much too much of the time right now, doesn’t it?
You are not alone, there are educators around the world feeling the same way.
If you are anything like me, you pull those stretchy pants on to accommodate all the stress-eating you’ve been doing and pump yourself up to have a great day doing what you love the most–serving students. You practice smiling in the mirror. You thank the good Lord for the opportunity the new day unfolds before you. You listen to your favorite music or an inspiring podcast. You are ready to win this day!
You say to yourself, “The divisiveness and negativity will not penetrate this armor today. Oh no, sir. We will laugh today, there will be lightbulb moments left and right, and we will end this day with satisfied exhaustion. No one will pop my bubble today!”
…your colleague barely grumbles a hello to you. Are they mad at me?
…someone shows you a negative Facebook post from a parent. Do they know how hard we are working?
…paper gets stuck in the copy machine and you can’t find where it is jammed for the life of you. Seriously, I can’t even do this right?
…an email pops up reminding you of an assessment that is due today. There go those lightbulb moments.
And then it feels like too much all over again.
There is a reason it feels that way–it IS too much if you try to do it all. Our windows of stress tolerance are nearly full before we even begin the school day, which means there is very little room for the additional stresses a day in the life of an educator inevitably brings. Take a look to see what I mean…
Educators have been dreaming about getting back to the work we signed up for when we chose the profession. We want to dive into best instructional practices and curriculum. We want to plan big, exciting units for students that have them jumping out of bed in the morning to get to school. We want to have time to sit down and collaborate with colleagues. But, we are still dealing with ever-changing COVID protocols, extended student absences, illnesses, staff shortages, and complete utter exhaustion from trying to balance it all and continue to make up for lost learning time.
Educators are amazingly resilient and they have HUGE servant hearts, so they will continue to give and give. Here are a few tips that may help you keep some emotional energy in your tank each day and reduce the amount of stress in your life:
- Recognize that everyone is heightened emotionally right now…your colleagues, students, and students’ families. Do whatever you can to lighten others’ emotional loads rather than adding to them, even if that means biting your tongue–especially when tempted to gossip. Gossip feels good in the moment but tends to add to our worry-loads and feelings of shame.
- Realize that people care a lot less about you than you think they do. This might sound mean but it is actually good news. In reality, people are way more focused on themselves than on you. Don’t judge them because they are likely not judging you. Don’t take insensitive comments personally because they are probably not about you.
- Give in to comforts. Read those trashy novels you love, rebinge (new word?!) a series that makes you laugh, cook your favorite meals. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself in good headspace. I am working on enjoying comforts that aren’t foods–those tend to be carb-filled and make me feel worse in the end.
- Find your people. You know, the ones who both challenge you AND make you feel better after talking things through. Those people who just naturally help you remove weight from your shoulders? Go to those people when it feels like it is just too much. And, when it feels like too much, stay off social media and stay away from the news. You have control over what you put in your head.
- Make fun a non-negotiable. As you look at your day ahead if you cannot identify at least one opportunity for fun and laughter, add it in. We always find time for the things we prioritize, so prioritize moments of pure joy and belly laughs. Dance, sing, play games, have fun challenges, or tell dad jokes.
This list is certainly not exhaustive but they are my go-to strategies when it feels like too much. Share your ideas with us by posting in the comments, I would love to learn from you because we are so much better together. And, we are stronger and more resilient than we ever imagined.
“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”― Elizabeth Edwards