Dear Future Teachers,
This year has been nothing short of stressful, to put it kindly. As a college student who is also working part-time with middle school students, all within a virtual environment for the first time, I have felt burnt out, unhappy, and I constantly feel overwhelmed or feel that I'm not doing enough. Normally, I love what I'm studying, I love my job, and I feel proud of what I do. I still do love my education path and the students I get to work with. I feel extremely blessed to have the job that I do or receive the opportunity to continue my education, but I also feel that I continue to fail every week. The major problem has been that I have not found time to rejuvenate and recharge within my new environment. After talking to several other students and current teachers, I know that I'm not alone in this feeling. This week, I wanted to share some ideas to help YOU feel rejuvenated and reenergized as we continue to navigate our current reality and challenges within online/virtual classrooms.
If you're like me, you spend practically all-day every day sitting in front of a computer screen for school, work, or both. Not only is this a strain on your eyes, but it's more physically draining than you may realize. Dedicate time each day, even if it's just half an hour, to close your laptop, put away your cellphone, and step away from the screen. I recommend putting your phone on silent, just to resist the temptation to break your designated time to unplug.
Schedule time to be unproductive
Between studying, working, cooking, and/or cleaning, there are many tasks that require us to be productive and get things done. Of course, we want to stay on top of our ever-growing To-Do lists, but not every minute of the day needs to be consumed by a productive activity. It is okay to take a nap, watch a quick Netflix show, call a loved one, or do anything else that isn't centered around completing an obligation. Currently, my life is on Google Calendar, so it might be helpful to physically schedule a regular time for you to take an intentional break sometime during the week!
Be comfortable saying "No"
A large challenge I face is saying "No" to extra tasks or responsibilities in the midst of a chaotic week. While many of us don't want to let others down, or don't want to seem rude by declining an offer, sometimes it is necessary to recognize when too much is on your plate and say "No" to the extra responsibility. You can't take time to rejuvenate if you're constantly agreeing to more work that isn't necessary for you to complete; if anything, it's going to increase your stress. Be intentional when agreeing to extra work; taking into consideration your schedule before committing yourself to something new!
Participate in something that brings you joy
Many tasks that we participate in during the week are out of obligation rather than actual enjoyment. I recommend taking at least one day a week to participate in an activity that brings you joy. Do you like to golf? Read? Dance? Make art? Meditate? Hike? Any activity or hobby that brings satisfaction to your life deserves a place in your schedule! The activity doesn't have to take an entire day, but it's important to remember to do things that you genuinely appreciate. I often feel more lighthearted and refreshed after doing something fun!
I know that I have talked about self-care on this blog before, but I think it's healthy to have a reminder to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate. It's easy to forget to slow down and listen to your body when there are so many tasks that need to get done, but I want to reiterate that you are not alone if you're feeling drained this year! Don't beat yourself up or blame yourself. Please make sure you are recognizing when you're too overwhelmed, take a step back, regroup, rejuvenate, and then continue with your responsibilities. While I may not be able to physically take anything off of your plate, I want to let you all know that there is nothing wrong with making yourself a priority, too! If you have more ideas on how to rejuvenate that you'd like to share, please send a message through the Contact Form on my home page or sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!