Tired teachers dealing with excessive stress both in and out of the classroom may have a more challenging time focusing on students and planning, which can make it harder for them to be effective educators in general.
If you face excessive fatigue and feel like the next break from school just can't come soon enough, you may need some added help to get back to the livelier version of yourself. Whether you're dealing with too much at home, too much at work, or both, there are a few things you can do to stave off exhaustion and rediscover the energy you need to get through it all.
Here are some of our best tips on how to reinvigorate yourself now that you’ve returned to class:
1. Learn to Take 15-Minute Breaks Once Every Hour
To begin, consider allowing yourself to work for only 45 minutes at a time. Take the last 15 minutes of each hour to step away from your responsibilities.
These regular mini-breaks will allow you to reset regularly and break your work into much more digestible chunks. When you're extremely tired or just mentally worn down, you need these breathers. They offer you a reward for having accomplished a goal or a portion of a goal.
Once you have implemented the 15-minute break rule for about a week, you will notice you're getting more done and enjoying a little more mental clarity along the way.
2. Spend Time with a Furry Companion
For years, medical science has told us that spending time with a family pet like a dog or cat can calm us down and have a calming effect on our nerves.
According to Harvard Health, dog owners enjoy lowered blood pressure. Known as the "pet effect," this results from spending time petting your companion and can reduce blood pressure by as much as 10 percent while also reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
With less stress hormone coursing through your veins, you're far likelier to be able to relax. This makes it easier to fall asleep and get the rest you need to prepare for the following day. Another added benefit is that reduced cortisol and lowered blood pressure can also ward off cardiovascular disease.
3. Spend Classroom Time Decompressing
Not every day at school has to be a rigorous review of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Especially close to the holidays or upon returning from school breaks, give your students time to express themselves in unconventional ways. Having a little fun in class can be exceedingly healthy for you too.
Consider activities like finger painting, time for kids to tell stories, show-and-tell, meditating, yoga, and even time to joke around with one another. When you open your classroom up to more hands-on activities that allow for deeper self-expression, you create a more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Everyone, including you, will dramatically benefit from this shift in activity. Furthermore, activities like meditation give you time to breathe and relax while yoga gets your blood moving, helping to recharge you and your sluggish students.
4. Ask for Outside Support
Support at Home
If your loved ones have started to notice that you are tired and stressed out most of the time, you probably won't have to ask them twice for their help. Sit them down and tell them what you need.
Whether it's less time in the kitchen when you get home or added assistance with the laundry, chances are you've been manning the battle stations for so long that your spouse or children simply don't think to help. Make them aware that you not only want the help, but that you need it too.
Support at Work
When it comes to the workplace, you can ask for all kinds of additional support. From a teacher's aide to help with lesson plans to more assistance from the school counselor, there are usually systems in place that you can turn to for support.
Partnerships with other teachers can also be a practical option. Bring in a more senior educator to help you do the things they've long ago mastered, streamlining your work and classroom.
5. When You've Tried Everything Else: Look for a New Teaching Job
Just because you love teaching doesn't mean you have to teach exactly where you are right now. You could be experiencing excessive fatigue and stress because you're not in an environment that challenges you. You could also be working for a school that doesn't appreciate everything you put into your students and their success.
If you feel this way, there's an excellent chance you might be happier teaching somewhere new or teaching a different grade. But, looking for other work in education can also have the opposite effect. You may find that reading job descriptions of other teaching jobs makes you appreciate the current role you play more deeply. This kind of realization can be enough on its own to snap you out of a slump.
Of course, you can do other simple things every day to keep you from being a tired teacher. Herbal tea each morning, taking naps after school, eating a balanced diet, and making to-do lists for each day are all things that can help relax and focus you, making it more likely that the sleep you finally do get is restful and restorative.