Summer break is not just a well-earned reprieve for teachers, it's a necessary one.
Understanding Stress and Its Symptoms
Job stress is the adverse physical and emotional response that occurs when a person’s job requirements exceed their practical skills, resources, and capacity. Teachers indicate that job stress is related to disorganized operations, unrealistic job demands, a lack of collaboration and support, and an inability to regulate emotions.
Stress is a normal part of everyday life. Though it can be uncomfortable and often overwhelming, a healthy amount of stress is actually good. It keeps us alert, motivated, and out of danger. But when stress levels escalate, it can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies. If it goes unaddressed, it can cause a range of negative physical and emotional symptoms, including, but not limited to:
- Aches and pains
- Digestive problems
- Panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping
- Weakened immune system
For the reasons above, as well as the negative impact a teacher’s stress can have on students, it’s critical to relax and reenergize over the summer.
1. Adopting a Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness is the act of paying conscious attention to your current experience with an open mind and non-judgmental attitude. A regular mindfulness practice can improve concentration, increase awareness, and reduce emotional reactivity.
Yoga, meditation, and breathwork are standard mindfulness practices, but tuning in to your lived experiences can be done anytime. This summer, educators might consider taking up a yoga practice, downloading a free meditation app, or learning the benefits of controlled breathwork.
Developing a mindfulness practice can also be taken back to the classrooms. Teachers can create daily breaks in the schedule for students to stretch, meditate, and breathe. These activities can help improve attention, academic performance, social skills, self-esteem, and more.
2. Spending Time Outside
A little fresh air can have a significant impact on reducing stress. In fact, anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes outside can improve mood, enhance focus, and lower blood pressure. If physical exertion isn’t your favorite mode of relaxation, don’t worry. Research indicates that simply sitting or walking in nature is enough to have a noticeable effect on stress levels.
3. Finding a Favorite Hobby
Now that your days are more laid back and your nights aren’t spent grading papers, you can fully explore the hobbies that pique your interest. Depending on your lifestyle, you might consider:
- Creative writing
- Home improvements
- Fostering a pet
No matter what hobby you choose, make sure it’s a good fit for your interests, needs, and lifestyle so you can fully relax while doing it.
4. Taking a Trip
Taking a trip to a new place is a great way to reduce tension. Not only does it give you the chance to experience a new community and culture, but it can enhance your creativity and make you more mentally resilient. You’ll get the relaxation benefits of vacation while arming yourself with new experiences and fun anecdotes to take with you in the new school year.
5. Spending Time Alone
After a year of taking care of students, educators can seriously benefit from spending time alone. Quality alone time can:
- Increase empathy
- Improve productivity
- Bolster creativity
- Help set goals and plan for the future
- Gain mental fortitude
For maximum effect, turn off your electronics to eliminate the temptation to connect with the outside world. Ideally, spending time alone will leave you feeling recharged and ready to continue enjoying time with others.
6. Spending Time with Loved Ones
Though alone time is critical, spending time with loved ones can also alleviate undue stress. When we spend time with family or friends, particularly in a face-to-face setting, it reduces the instances of depression, anxiety, and more. It also creates networks of strong emotional support, which can help diminish feelings of stress.
7. Planning for the Coming Year
As educators, it’s essential to start the year on the right foot for both yourself and your students. Spend a little time each week throughout the summer drafting lesson plans, researching course materials, gathering office supplies, and more. Being fully prepared will help you feel calm when the first bell of the year rings.
Make Room for What Matters
Teachers have always been exceptionally hard workers, but with the ever-changing landscape of education brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, every school day poses its own challenges. That said, it’s important to take time this summer to stress less and relax more so you can keep being your best.
If you want to spend more time focusing on yourself and your students and less time wondering how to deliver quality instruction, reach out to Big Ideas Learning today. We have a robust catalog of educational resources and materials for educators to help you make the most of your school year.