It's true. I'm done. I am 13 teaching days away from the end of this school year and I have so little left in me that some days I don't know if I'll make it through dinner.
This has been a challenging school year. 20 students with a very diverse set of academic needs, students who struggle with coping skills and self-esteem, the death of a classroom parent. I'm not the first teacher to juggle all of this in a single school year, and I won't be the last, but sometimes all of this becomes overwhelming.
So... how CAN we dig ourselves out of this rut of complete exhaustion and find a way to enjoy these final weeks? I've got some suggestions for you!
Whatever you do, don't isolate yourself. It may feel like you're completely alone in how you are feeling, but I can guarantee you are not. Reach out to other staff members. When you share students chances are you share stories. Vent a little. Listen and understand that others feel the same way. Lean on each other.
You've nearly finished that set of report cards. Why not start your first summer read a little early? Lose yourself in a great story to escape the reality of work for just a little bit.
Make a hair appointment, plan a pedicure, squeeze in a massage if you can. A little physical pampering can go a long way. Check your benefits package if you have one - you just may be entitled to massage therapy! I love to treat myself this way!
Sometimes treatment appointments just aren't in the cards. They can be expensive and time-consuming during an already taxing time of the year. Finding a quiet spot to just sit and concentrate on your breathing can eliminate stress and help you find some inner peace. Put the devices away, silence your phone, close your eyes and turn the world around you off for just a bit.
Go for a run. Sign up for a session of yoga. Take a walk. Bring the kids, or don't. Hold hands with your partner, or enjoy the quiet and solitude of being on your own. Whatever you choose, moving your body is a great way to settle your brain. Exercise is truly one of the best (and cheapest!) therapies available!
Personally, I don't have a musical bone in my body. I can't play an instrument, but I sure love to lose myself in music. I love listening to my husband play guitar, but have also been known to plug in my iPod, crank the tunes and have my own personal dance party right here in my house. Shhh.... don't tell my students! ;)
Go on a weekend road trip. Go for a drive, or head to a neighboring city for a night or two away. I love to head a couple hours away from home to Toronto or Montreal to catch a concert or theatre performance, but I'm just as happy to skip over the border for a night in an inexpensive hotel with dinner out and a movie in!
Don't let the spring health plans go completely out the window, but don't be so tough on yourself that you can't indulge in an ice-cream cone, favorite dessert or a glass of wine. Delight your senses and escape for a few moments in something you enjoy.
One of my favorite stress relievers - sleep. I am a sleeper. I need my 8 hours a night (and sometimes more!) or I just don't function well. At this time of the school year it is easy to get caught in a trap of staying up too late. Whether you're working on report card writing, catching up on your Netflix faves, or just to tired to drag yourself to bed (this may have happened to me before), don't let a reasonable bedtime get away from you. Sleep is so important, but especially when you're stressed out and tired.
This is by no means a complete list. I'd LOVE to hear what your favorite stress-reducing activities are in the comments below! If you are still teaching like me, take care of yourself. If you're done, enjoy every moment of your vacation and take some time just for you. You deserve it.
Until next time,