Teachers need relaxation strategies to reduce stress more than ever.
Let’s face it, in today’s education world, we as teachers do more than teach kids. We are so overloaded with extra tasks like data tracking five different ways, meetings on top of meetings, sponsoring after school activities, field trip planning, and community relations that we have spread ourselves thin! By the time we get home from a 10 hour day at school (sometimes longer), we are in dire need of relaxation time. Our bodies tell us to take a break and relax, but we have that stack of papers calling us from the bag we just toted home or we have a hungry family that wants a home cooked meal. We must listen to our bodies when they tell us to take a break and relax! It is so important to find time for yourself to just unwind and recharge because not only is your stress level affecting your mental and physical health, it’s also going to affect your job performance.
One of the great benefits of being a teacher is the breaks that we are given during the year (and summer of course) that allow us to recharge. Unfortunately, we don’t always time our through the roof stress levels around the breaks and we need to have ways to relax and reenergize ourselves during the workweek. Squeeze out some time for yourself in the evenings to do one or more of these things to help keep your stress level in check.
1. Music Therapy
I love music! All different types of music! Depending on my mood, I could be listening to anything from pop hits to country to punk. No matter what your taste in music is, any bit of music can help remove some of that stress that’s weighing you down. Pop in your favorite CD and just dance around the room, go onto YouTube and find a music video by your favorite artist to watch, or play your favorite classic Disney songs and sing along! If none of those sound like you and you’re musically talented, pull out your instrument and play a couple songs (or make up your own).
You don’t have to have a gym membership or be the most athletic person to do yoga. There are DVDs, video games, or even online videos you can find that will walk you through a yoga session. Yoga is about finding your inner peace and calmness through breath control and meditation all while stretching your body and burning calories. Put on your favorite workout pants, light some candles, and stretch through the stress!
As hard as it is to turn off the teacher part of our brains and focus on other things, we must do it! Put all of your focus on things that are important to you, like family. Be aware of what’s going on around you and not what you’re worried about teaching next week. Have those coffee dates with friends, intently watch your child score a homerun at their game, enjoy a real conversation with your significant other. No matter the task or environment around you, focus on it, because your school stuff will still be there tomorrow, but the opportunities in front of you right now might not be.
We’ve all seen the coloring book trend come back in style in the past few years and you know you’ve looked at a few of those “adult coloring books” while in line at the store, so why not get one? Coloring can be so relaxing! There are thousands of coloring book themes to choose from, so you’re bound to find one you like (anywhere from Harry Potter themed, to mandalas, to flowers). You can choose to color with crayons, colored pencils, markers, or fancy gel pens. Find a comfy chair and get lost in an artistic creation of your own!
Sometimes we have so many thoughts and ideas going through our heads that we feel like we couldn’t possibly fit anymore in there. This is where keeping a journal can be beneficial. You don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning author to keep a journal either. Writing out your thoughts can help release the pressure of remembering everything you’ve been thinking about all day to help deescalate your stress level. You can be honest and real about what’s going on in your head when you keep a journal.
6. Spending Time Outdoors
I don’t know about you, but I do not have a green thumb! I’ve tried growing my own little garden of vegetables before (ok, it was a radish in a cup in 4th grade for the county fair), and I just can’t do it. If you have the gift of growing plants, gardening may be your relaxation outlet. You could plant some beautiful flowers outside your house or start an herb garden that you’ll use in your cooking in a few months. If gardening isn’t your thing, take a walk through a park (and if you’re lucky enough to live close to one, a state park). You don’t have to be an avid hiker to go out and enjoy the fresh air, the warm sun, and beautiful trees. Take your stress and release it into the outdoors!
Like yoga, meditation focuses on calming yourself and finding your inner peace with controlled breathing, but it doesn’t require you to be actively moving/stretching. Play a CD of classical music or use a sound machine with nature sounds (whatever relaxes you), and find a spot to sit that you will be uninterrupted. Focus on deep breaths in and out and the sounds of the music or sound machine. Some people also find it soothing to have a candle or essential oils burning as well. And don’t worry, you don’t need to sit in the lotus position to fully benefit from meditation.
No matter what method you try to help relieve some of your stress that comes with teaching, just do something that benefits you! Stress will always be there (as will those extra tasks), so we need to be creative in finding ways to keep ourselves in tip-top-shape mentally. Our students depend on us to be the best teacher we can be and decreasing our stress levels through various relaxation methods is one way to help us get closer to that.