Some days when I’m greeted with an enthusiastic “Good morning! How are you?” I just want to growl and say “I’m tired.” I hate being that person, because would much rather be happy and cheerful. How about you? Let’s face it, teaching can be exhausting and burnout can happen to the best of us. How do you avoid burnout? How do you know if you’re there? What does burnout look like? Read on, my weary teacher friends.
How do you know that you’re burning out?
You are overwhelmed. You know there’s a lot to do and you are wondering how you will be able to add one more thing. Maybe you are thinking that you should compromise your values and expectations just so you can mark things off your to do list. You may even consider prioritizing but tell yourself it just won’t be enough.
You are anxious. You’ve got that nagging feeling that you should be doing more. You may even realize that you actually need to do LESS, but still feel like you could do more and you should do more.
You are tired. Maybe tired isn’t the best description. You are exhausted. Weary. You sleep, but don’t seem to rest. It’s the kind of tired that makes you want to crawl in bed at 6:30 and wake up in 3 days. For me, I know I’m experiencing burnout when I sit down at lunch and daydream about going to bed that night.
You just aren’t any fun. How long has it been since you laughed? Really laughed? Belly laughed? Maybe you just don’t laugh or smile as much as you used to. I hate unfunny me! It makes the days feel longer than usual.
You just aren’t up to daily challenges like you used to be. You may not feel as creative, patient or enthusiastic as you once did. You may feel like you have just lost your edge.
You just want to be left alone. Do you just want to find a big cozy blanket and hide under it? You may be experiencing burnout if you are craving a place to hide, a place where you aren’t tried and tested and no one will question you. A place that is just…quiet!
Ways I’ve Tried Dealing with Burnout
1. Look at that teacher or administrator that is really getting on your nerves. Close one eye and put your pointer finger and thumb in front of your other eye and pretend you are pinching their little heads. Incredibly satisfying.
2. Harry and David’s has these magic little bags of happiness called Moose Munch. Buy. Eat. Eat some more. Cry when it is gone. Buy more. Repeat.
3. Gallons of Diet Mt. Dew.
I don’t really recommend any of these, but they are things that I have tried!
How to Deal with Burnout
1. Get physical. I know, it’s not what I usually think of when I am tired and stressed, but exercising can give you quiet time, gets your endorphins popping and will make you rest better. You don’t have to go to the gym either. Take a walk, dance to a YouTube video with your kids, get a little romantic with your spouse, take a swim or even play a game of ping pong.
2. Be a list maker. Sometimes I get stressed because I am trying to remember everything that I need to do and inevitably forget something. Now, I make a list of things that I need to do and then stop worrying about it. My lists usually in three parts: Today, This Week and Sometime. The Today list includes things that need to be done before I go home. This week means as soon as I can and the Sometime list is for those great ideas that I want to do, but can’t do right now. Sometimes I copy things from list to list for weeks until I get to them. While that might sound crazy, if it is on the list I spend less time thinking about it.
3. Plan your quiet time. Schedule a time for a massage or a pedicure. Plan an afternoon where you have no responsibilities and turn your phone off. Schedule time to relax. Make it as much of a priority as you do your tasks at work. Your family and your students will thank you for it!
4. Get some rest. No, really. Go to bed a little earlier. End your evening with a hot shower, a favorite drink and perhaps meditation or prayer. Don’t research online, grade papers, catch up on emails or even make a grocery list. Just go to bed.
5. Get to work earlier. Feeling rushed and stressed can start right away. Is there a way that you can get to work 15 minutes earlier? A few minutes of extra time before things get busy and noisy can go a long way in starting your day off feeling prepared and refreshed. If you can find those minutes in the morning, plan to stay 15 minutes later and get everything ready for the next morning. (That includes stacking up papers to grade and leaving them there until tomorrow. Don’t take them home!)
6. Be thankful. Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed it helps to count my blessings. Be thankful for your family, friends and co-workers. Be thankful for the things that are going right. Be thankful for the little things like outside recess and no bake cookies for lunch. Be thankful. You have the greatest job in the world!
Save this article for later. PIN IT.