Educators Need Rest, Too

By: Edaise Germany, LEAD, Inc., Fellow

Being an educator is hard work and can leave one feeling exhausted. Whether it be from the long hours, having work to bring home after most school days, and/or challenging students, it is important that educators’ have the chance to rest and recover during the Holidays.

For those of you who are committed to being the best educator you can be – and perhaps even have the need to work a job or two on the side at the same time – the school season can be very challenging. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget maintaining a social life and practicing proper self-care. This is not just for students! Seriously – it’s something you shouldn’t forget because if you do, it could be too overwhelming to succeed in the more “productive” areas of your life. This is why it is so important to rest and recharge properly over longer breaks, such as winter break.

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The human body is like an electronic device. No, I’m not being funny – this is the truth. Think about it. Any electronic device needs time to rest and recharge. Most electronic devices can be used for fun or for work purposes. We. Are. Electronics. We. Are. Machines. We need to have fun, but we also need to work. And in order to successfully accomplish both these tasks, we must rest and recharge our internal batteries. If we don’t, we will end up a pile of dead batteries headed towards the trash can. Not good.

“We must rest and recharge our internal batteries”

This being said, I’m not discouraging a work-hard-mentality whatsoever. That takes grit, and it’s something to be proud of. In order to help you better achieve all your goals in life though, there is a list below of tips and tricks which can help you recharge your battery. If you take even several moments out of every day to contemplate gratefulness and focus on yourself and the bigger picture, it will affect your ability to perform in a shockingly great way. This also is in line with knowing your own boundaries and knowing when you need to hit pause, even if it’s just for a moment. The better you get to know yourself, the easier it will be to work with your own body and needs in order to accomplish more in turn.

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Here are five tips and tricks that can help you achieve more of a balanced (although, still busy) life:

  1. Know Yourself

When trying to decide whether you have time to take on another task, try to visualize yourself in the potential situation. It’s easy at first to agree to everything, however, when the time to act on that new commitment rolls around, the feeling of being overwhelmed can be so immense to the point of not wanting to do even one of your commitments. Instead of just saying yes, say “let me get back to you,” and then take some time to think about the following:

  • What do you currently have on your plate?
  • How stressed does that currently make you feel?
  • Will your current commitments be waning at all by the time the new commitment arises?
  • Can you can physically and mentally ACTUALLY take on another task, considering your current stress level and available time?

In addition, DO NOT agree to take on another recurring task that will bleed into any  “me-time” that you already have. That me-time could be the only thing keeping you sane, and by cutting into it, or worse–completely getting rid of it–to take on another task, may very well push you over the edge and land you in the hospital. And as an educator, “me-time,” could be rather limited as it is.

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2. Say “No”

Saying no can be hard, especially if you like to make everyone happy.  Sure, someone you know is throwing a Christmas party and last minute found herself in need of extra help to set up, and she is now asking you to help two hours before the party is supposed to begin. Even though you’re in the middle of helping to make Christmas dinner for your own get-together the next night, and not to mention haven’t even started your own set up yet, you still want to say yes. Considering you really don’t have time to help out, it would actually be smart not to help, because it would be putting too much on your plate. But, many of us would justify helping out, as it IS the season of giving after all, and you are doing her a favor. In turn, you’ll just stay up all night to finish cooking your dinner.

What’s wrong with this situation?

By doing a good deed, which everyone does appreciate (except your body), you are not putting yourself first. By staying up all night and letting your stress levels take a hit because of someone else is not taking control over your own time. Remember – your time is YOURS. Not someone else’s. After all this stress (and probably severe lack of sleep) of trying to rearrange your schedule to help another person, you probably will end up feeling like death, if not sick yourself, the next day, which will affect all the other commitments you need to accomplish without the time for a nap. It’s not worth it.

Remember –  your time is YOURS.

3. Know Your Environment

Your relaxation environment is very important, whether you realize it or not. For some, okay, maybe it really doesn’t matter, however for others it really does. If you need to get a substantial amount of relaxation and rest in and have the ability to go wherever you choose, take the time to set yourself up in that spot of optimal rest. It’s amazing how much more whole you will feel at the end, compared to if you had rested somewhere that upsets your internal peace. Surrounding yourself with a messy room, for example, will keep you from getting the most out of your relaxation time.

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Perhaps you prefer to relax in a spa – in this case, book an appointment and thoroughly enjoy your time there. You earned it. Perhaps you prefer a certain spot in a cozy café to read a book (and order your favorite drink while you’re at it). Perhaps your optimal spot is actually in bed – sleep, as well as just laying and feeling comfortable in bed, is a form of relaxation.

4. Take Time For Yourself

What makes you feel recharged, grateful, and happy? Think about it, and allow yourself some time to indulge in those activities semi-regularly to keep yourself sane and working diligently when it’s time to work. Be intentional about setting aside a day, or even a couple hours, in which you will do NO work, and truly relax and treat yourself. The lasting effects of this renewing feeling are amazing.

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Some suggestions of what you could do to de-stress are:

  • Meditation/Breathing
  • Yoga
  • Exercise in general
  • Reading
  • “Spa” activities
  • Indulging in a favorite food or drink, or treating yourself to an item of choice that you strongly desire

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

Whether this is asking for help with a project, advice from family, or seeking professional help, don’t be afraid to do so! Of course, you do not want to live your life asking for help for each and every task you need to complete. However, everyone needs some sort of guidance, and a healthy level of dependence on others actually strengthens relationships. The insight that you will gain from asking for help or advice may surprise you and be even more helpful than you thought it would be.

If you are struggling to teach a class or how to interact with a certain student, remember to reach out to other instructors, as they may have advice to help. People can touch other peoples’ lives in amazing ways, but only if you let them.

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Disclaimer: Any self-care, stress-management, and self-help strategies shared by LEAD’s bloggers do not substitute appropriate professional help and clinical support for people living with a mental illness. While these strategies may be part of a treatment plan designed by a clinician, professional help is required to assess for risk and craft the treatment plan.

Why Wait? #LEADNOW

In response to the rising rates of mental illness, Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do, Inc.(LEAD) provides curriculum and training to schools, summer camps, and youth-serving organizations to promote mental health education and adolescent wellbeing.

LEAD “revolutionizes health education” by introducing topics like mental illness, substance use, and sexual violence into existing – and often outdated – health education courses in high schools. LEAD’s TryHealth curriculum supplement is currently being piloted at four high schools in two states and has already shown promising results including students being 2x more likely to report suicidal ideation in a peer after taking the course.

LEAD also provides innovative and evidence-based early intervention training and certification to adults working with young people and in high-risk communities. For more information or to request a free consultation, please visit www.leadnow.org or contact LEAD’s Executive Director at kyrah@LEADnow.org.

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