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Stayin' Alive

If I Can Just Make It Until the Holidays

Found in: Advice & Support

Do you carry the same stack of ungraded papers back and forth to school? When the kids go home, do you panic because you know you have to do all this again tomorrow? Do you still love children, but sometimes hate your students?

You are not alone. Many teachers experience anxiety at this time of year. They think, "If I can just make it 'til Thanksgiving, I can collapse. And then if I can make it through to the end of December, I'll quit and they can find somebody to take my place."

If you've been having these thoughts lately, you could be experiencing a little stress. After all, you've just lived through:

  • The first week of school
  • A slew of discipline problems
  • Testing
  • Lesson plans that bombed
  • Kids who are not learning as fast as you'd hoped (and planned for)
  • Parent-teacher conferences
  • Grades

You've actually survived a lot.

But now it's time to take care of you. Begin by designing a resource you can draw on when you're feeling stressed or depressed.

Create a Stress Buster File or Scrapbook 
Address your stress by building a stress buster file or scrapbook. Look for articles, jokes, inspirational quotes, photos, and graphics that speak to you, make you laugh, or remind you to get some exercise. Be sure to add your own stories about students who made your day and students whose lives you're changing. Here are some articles to get you started:

Stress Management -- A brief discussion of what stress is and what to do about it. Addressed to university students, but applicable to anyone experiencing stress. From University of Buffalo Counseling Services.
Not to Lose Heart -- An article by Cynthia Carbone Ward about her first two years of teaching.  From the TeachersNetwork.org.

Next, break out of your shell. Start scheduling time to be with friends, family, and fellow teachers, and to exercise.

Socialize and Exercise
Just being with family and friends for an hour can help you step back and get some perspective on your life. Talking with colleagues can help you see that everyone gets stressed about work from time to time. Find out how your co-workers handle their stress. And don't forget to move, stretch, and breathe deeply throughout the day. Here are some articles with activities you can do to relieve stress:

Top 8 Fun Stress Relievers -- These stress relievers may be easier to practice on a regular basis -- because they're fun.
6 Ways to Relieve Stress -- Stress relievers you can begin today. EzineArticle.
How Are You Handling Stress? -- Retired teacher suggests some routines that may help.

Remember, no matter what you decide to do after your winter holiday, you still need to take care of your physical and emotional self now. So work on de-stressing yourself by creating a stress buster file or scrapbook and by socializing and exercising more. The goal is to balance your work life with your after-work life, a skill that will help you in any job.


About the Author
Karen Zauber taught elementary school in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and Denver, Colorado. She has worked for the National Education Association for 12 years.

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