Happy teachers take time to rejuvenate. It’s that simple. When we burn our candle at both ends, we cannot keep our flame going forever. We need time to refuel, rest, and rejuvenate our bodies, minds, and spirits.
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Holiday breaks may not always be the most restful, but hopefully you take the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate your spirit.
Hopefully you go out of town, get a massage, sleep in, take naps, read books, take baths, have coffee with friends, or whatever you do to rejuvenate.
But how do you keep your tank full – even in the midst of going a million miles an hour during the busy-ness of the week?
How do you keep your energy up so that you can be the teacher you want to be?
Well – here are my tips – and for this I’m going to have you think like a car.
Manage your fuel (aka energy) throughout the day: If you start your day with your pedal to the medal, and feel completely drained by the end, then manage your fuel a bit differently throughout the day. Instead of being enthusiastic all day, try-on some low-energy positive emotions like peace and calmness. Instead of thinking in black and white – energy “on” or “off” – think of your energy as a volume control. You can still stay positive and happy while having your volume turned down, and in fact, this is how we want our students to act too – so this is a good modeling opportunity.
Manage your fuel level throughout the week: I make a habit of looking at my upcoming week on Sunday. I write out our family schedule on a whiteboard in our home, and I plan meals and figure out how the week is going to look. I plan crockpot meals on days that are going to be more hectic in the evenings. I plan out-to-dinner or take-out nights on days when I know life is going to be extra tough. (I got rid of the guilt of not making a home-cooked meal every night a long time ago!) I plan more activities in the evenings on Mondays and Tuesdays and less on Wednesdays and Thursdays when I know I’m going to be tired and want to stay home. The point here is – we have to be thoughtful about anticipating our energy level throughout the week, and making appropriate decisions ahead of time that will help us get through the week without running on fumes.
Plan to refuel: When you’re on a long drive, you have to look down at your gas gauge every once in a while and think about when you’ll be able to refuel. You have to look at the road signs to see when there is an upcoming fuel stop, and you have to think about how much fuel you have to determine if you need to stop now, or if you’ll charge on to the next opportunity for fuel. Our energy levels need to be managed EXACTLY THE SAME WAY! Here’s how:
- We need to check in with our gas gauge throughout the day and week. Reflect on your energy level and envision where the needle on your gas gauge is. Developing awareness about your energy level is the first step in adequately managing your energy.
- We need to check the road signs (our schedules and to-do lists) to find times when we’ll get to refuel. Where in your schedule do you have margin to build in an activity that rejuvenates you? If the answer is none then you need to go back to your map and rearrange your road trip (see some of my previous posts on perfectionism, work-life balance, and exhaustion)
- We need to plan on refueling at those stops so that we don’t inadvertently run out of gas. Plan in to your schedule those times to rejuvenate. Maybe it means not bringing work home with you on weekends so that you can completely use the weekend to refuel. Or maybe it means planning a weekly hobby or event on Wednesday nights so you can have a mid-week refueling stop.
Refuel: Refueling is about rejuvenating our bodies, spirits, and minds. You may like to soak in the tub and listen to calming music. You may like to take time to chat with a friend on the phone. To determine what refuels you, answer this question on a piece of paper: When was the last time you felt happy, light, and energized? What were you doing or had just done? Write these ideas down on a piece of paper that can be your go-to for refueling activities.
Happy teachers take time to rejuvenate and refuel. They are mindful of their energy level throughout the week, anticipate times of drain, and take active steps to keep their tanks full so that they don’t sputter out of gas.
There are going to be those moments. The moments that sneak up on us and we completely run out of gas. We are drained. We are burned out.
That’s when you have to call for help. Sometimes we can’t even get ourselves off of the road and out of danger. So that’s when we have to be able to reach out to someone close to us and say “I’m out of gas, and I need help.” Close friends, family members, spouses, or even a coach can have this role for you. They will help you to find you way off the road so that you can get what you need before moving on.
I want to see you THRIVE with a full tank of gas and a smart plan for managing your personal energy.
All my love,
~Alison, A Teacher’s Best Friend