Today's Self-Care Sunday feature is brought to you by Stephanie. Stephanie is a Behavior Analyst in southern Maine, providing support to treatment teams in homes and schools for children and adults with developmental disabilities. She enjoys running, advice columns, and making lists.
We all know that the beginning of the school year is fraught with a roller coaster of emotions — excitement, nervousness, anticipation, fear of the unknown. With all of the newness and unpredictability, this time of year can be a challenge for those who suffer from anxiety.
Recently, I have been using a new coping skill with a few of the consumers (teens/adults/ children) I work with that suffer from anxiety. I also use it myself, and have had my mom and sister try it when they tell me that they’re feeling overwhelmed/angry/stressed. I believe that anyone can benefit from this simple strategy by taking a few moments to focus and center.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Strategy
To use this strategy, I find a quiet(er) place, turn off my music, and shut my eyes. I lead myself through the following thought exercises:
By engaging my senses and focusing only on things that are bringing or have brought me joy, I sometimes can put the anger or stress I feel into perspective. I can sometimes move on more quickly than if I focus on the thing that is causing me any kind of negative emotion.
If I am not able to move on, I write it down on a piece of paper and put it down. I set a timer on my phone, and give myself 5 minutes to think of what (if anything) I can or should do to fix the problem. After 5 minutes, I write down my proposed solution and then I throw the note away. It usually helps me feel more in control and in touch with my surroundings.
When I feel anxious or sad, I tend to turn inward, but this exercise helps me focus outward. I hope that it will help you, too.
Readers, what strategies do you use for dealing with stress and anxiety at the beginning of the school year (or any time, for that matter)? Let us know in the comments below. We'd also love to have you contribute to an upcoming Self-Care Sunday post! If you have a topic or strategy, let us know about it here.
Today's Self-Care Sunday post is brought to you by Samantha, owner and author at The Snarky Schoolteacher. Read more about her on our About page and follow her on Tumblr or Twitter.
Essential oils have been getting a lot of buzz recently among those looking to improve their health. The problem is that there is so much information out there boasting so many grandiose claims that it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. In the past year, I have become more acquainted with essential oils and have really been able to see the impact they've had on my life inside the classroom and out. I wanted to introduce you to my favorite essential oil products so that you can incorporate them into your self-care routine, too!
Do you use essential oils at home or in the classroom? Tell us about it in the comments below! We would love to hear how you incorporate oils into your self-care routine.
It’s that time of year again. The store displays are filling back up with crayons and notebooks, the charities are taking donations of school supplies for needy children, and the teachers (myself included) start having those school nightmares again. You know, the ones where you dream the first day of school is here and your class is at your door and you haven’t unpacked all your stuff yet… Or the one where you dream you have to co-teach a class of 383 first grade students in a gym with an audience of veteran teachers. Oh, wait, that doesn’t happen to you? Maybe that’s just me!
The point is… A new school year is right around the corner.
We all know how to plan daily lessons, weekly activities, month-long units, and long-range plans for the year. But as I think and pray each year for my students and my impact and the year ahead of me, it always seems God gives me a spiritual long-range-plan, if you will. I dwell on it as my mind prepares for the year ahead, but it serves as a reminder of my true purpose and my true strength in those moments when it seems like my efforts are falling flat.
A couple years ago my inspiration came in the form of a quote from a song:
"Boys will become Kings, girls will be Queens,
Last year, my motivation came through another song called “Love Take Me Over” by Steven Curtis Chapman:
“Love, fill up all of my space and Love, stand right here in my place. Love, take me over.
If you haven’t heard these catchy and poignant songs, go look them up!
This year, God has laid on my heart a scripture that completely sums up the purpose of my ministry as a teacher and hopefully yours, too:
Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.
There is so much meat in these verses that I could ramble on about, but what stands out to me the most is the imagery of all of it!
When I feed their bellies, their imaginations, and their thirst for learning and love, my classroom becomes a lighthouse!
He promises to guide me continually and restore my strength when I am weak!
My classroom will be like a garden with blooms and buds and growth and roots in good soil!
And when I love and teach these precious souls, I am rebuilding the ruins of my city. I am rebuilding walls of strength and safety and trust and wisdom in these lives. And I am restoring homes with hope and love! What a promise!
So, I write this to encourage you with my own long-range spiritual plan for this school year, but I also would encourage you to seek your own. Seek and pray and worship and intercede for those faces you may not even know yet. Find wisdom and strength to carry you through. Maybe it’s a song, a poem, a scripture, or a sermon. But find the inspiration that God can use to tap into your soul on your weakest and most difficult days.
Readers — how do you set a long-range plan for teaching with purpose? Share your motivation for the year in the comments below!
Today's Self-Care Sunday feature is brought to you by Lisa R. Lisa is a 10th year Kindergarten teacher at a very diverse, low-income school district in central New Jersey. She enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and friends, watching The Golden Girls and The Walking Dead, and eating chocolate chip cookies. She is a big supporter of practicing kindness and loves to spread positivity. Follow her blog on Tumblr.
Teachers are amazing people. We juggle endless chaos for ten months of the year and, during the other two months, the level of chaos only slightly lessens, if at all. Teaching can suck a lot out of a person; teachers are so giving, caring, focused, driven, and organized. We have a million things on our minds at any given time. It’s incredibly rewarding, but also pretty exhausting. With the constant pull of everything going on, between dealing with administration, lesson planning, mandates, testing, meetings, parent meetings (the list goes on…), it’s easy for burn out to happen. I, myself, have felt it. I felt it as early as the first year, and now, having finished my ninth year, I still have my moments, but I have found something that has been incredibly helpful, not only for myself as a teacher, but as a whole person and that tool is mindfulness. With a few simple exercises, bringing awareness to the moment and making time for self-care, I definitely noticed a major improvement in my ability to manage stress, especially the stress of teaching.
Earlier this year, I met with a fantastic counselor who taught me a lot about stress management. The ideas she shared not only helped me to find calm and feel aware in my daily personal life, but also became a great support during the school year as well.
Basically, mindfulness is awareness - being focused on the present moment; bringing attention to things like your breathing, how your feet feel as they touch the ground or your posture. It’s all about noticing your feelings and thoughts as they are happening.
Now, I know, getting “out of your own head” and focusing on the present moment can seem impossible, especially in our line of work, but I can say that even just doing a few quick exercises can make a difference and over time, they can become an easy routine, a safe haven during stressful times. So often we are thinking about what is coming or what we have to do which takes us away from the present moment. We miss out on things or start to feel frazzled because we’re always thinking about the next thing that needs to get done and it takes us away from the now.
mindfulness techniques to try:
Mindfulness can seem impossible, but with a few short exercises, making the time for yourself and trying them out, you may find it’s easier than you thought. Mindfulness is something you can grow and develop with practice and once you’ve gotten started, it’s easy to make time and to fit even short activities into your day.
Over time, mindfulness and awareness have become a part of me, just as I’ve grown into being grateful and positive, I’ve become more mindful and aware just by making a little time for myself, even if it’s just a minute in the morning. I have noticed a major improvement in my ability to handle stress, to appreciate the moment, and to be aware. I know if mindfulness is something that is important to you or if you’re looking for a way to feel less stress, anxiety, or worry, these exercises may be helpful to you, too.
For the past six months, I have been receiving bi-monthly deliveries from Stitch Fix. If you haven't heard of this service yet, Stitch Fix is like having your own personal stylist. You go to the website, fill out a style profile, and they send you items that match your budget and style. You keep what you want and send back what you don't. You can adjust your "fixes" to receive them as often as you'd like. The stylist even goes so far as to check out your Pinterest board for inspiration and send you a note about the pieces they picked for you. There is also an incredibly handy chart for pairing your pieces with other items to achieve different looks. I love seeing the ideas they have for each piece.
I'll be honest, I don't always have the time or energy to look farther than my local Target for trendy pieces. While I absolutely adore Target, I know that a lot of people shop there and it's not always fun to match your students. Working with adolescents has taught me that not only do people look at what you wear, but they look at how you wear it. My students know when I am comfortable and confident. It's not the clothes themselves that make me a better teacher - it's how I feel when I wear them. Enter Stitch Fix. I get my boxes bi-monthly and it's like a holiday every time they come in. I get so excited to see what they will pick for me!
This month I received two amazing outfits, so I thought it would be fun to share with all of you to see which you think I should keep. All photos were taken by the lovely and talented Crosby Rothey. Here we go!
Outfit #1: Renesme Geo Cube Jersey Faux Wrap Dress
This is not a dress I would have originally picked for myself, so I'm always thankful when my stylist sends me something that is outside of my comfort zone. This dress is so vibrant and the print is fun! It is incredibly comfortable and the cut is so flattering. Pair it with some cute flats and you are good to go for the day. This is something I would feel very comfortable teaching in- and best of all- it's easy. I love no-fuss fashion.
Outfit #2: Emmett Slim Straight Leg Jean with Teslow Flutter Sleeve Knit Top, Ashton Crochet Lace Kimono, and Delmara Embellished Lace Up Sandals
Depending on your school's dress code, some of you may be able to teach in a pair of white jeans. I could wear this outfit on a special "jeans day", but probably not for everyday wear. This would be more of a weekend ensemble for me, but I really love this look. The top and kimono are so soft and feminine - exactly my style. The shoes add a pop of shimmer and the lace up details are lovely. This outfit is so flirty and fun! I love it.
Now comes the hard part - picking which one I want to keep. If I want to keep all five pieces in both of these outfits, Stitch Fix will give me a "box discount" of 25%, which is really nice. I'm just not sure I need to keep both right now. Help me figure out which to keep my commenting below with your vote for "Outfit #1" or "Outfit #2".
If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, I would love it if you'd use my affiliate link. I am not being compensated to write this post, but I do get credit for anyone who signs up through my link. I truly love the service and I think you will, too. It's just another way to infuse some self-care into your busy schedule.
So, which will it be- "Outfit #1" or "Outfit #2"?
Spring is right around the corner and many of us will get a few extra days off this month to engage in some R&R. We believe in extra self care here at The Snarky Schoolteacher, so we created a fun incentive so everyone can participate with us. Introducing: Self-Care Spring Break Bingo!
Participating is simple. Download our free bingo card, print, and play! When you complete any five self-care activities (doesn't have to be in a row), share your stories with us using the hashtag #snarkyspringbreak and you will be automatically entered to win a Snarky Self-Care Kit! (See below for details.)
Update: We're extending the deadline to Sunday, April 10, 2016 to accommodate all of the late Spring Breakers. Happy Self-Caring!
Prize: Snarky Self-Care Kit
One lucky winner will receive this Snarky Self-Care Kit! The kit includes everything you need to indulge in a little self-care. The kit includes a teacher's mug from Look Human, assorted Twinings tea bags in an exclusive Snarky bag, four single body treatments, a lavender scented candle from L'Ocean, Russell Stover chocolate, and a cute Spring notepad to keep all of your to-do's in order.
March is a wonderful month. It is one step closer to June. It also usually comes with a reprieve from the day-to-day in the form of a Spring Break. Unfortunately, my new school doesn't believe in a very long one, but I'll take what I can get!
This month is all about content-specifics. If you are an elementary teacher and you teach several different content areas, feel free to choose one you'd like to improve. Since all teachers are responsible for incorporating literacy skills into their lessons, I'm going to recommend books this month that will help us all improve in that area.
The Book Whisperer
Common Core for the Not-So-Common Learner
The Reading Strategies Book
Educational professionals from Assignmentmasters writing team is here to help.
Psychological stress affects your critical cognitive processes and causes a state known as mental noise. Your mind gets carried away with burdening thoughts and you’re not even trying to bring it back to the present moment. If the stress levels get too serious, educators may fall into states of anxiety or depression, which undermine their professional effectiveness. Physical manifestations often accompany the psychological effects of stress. Thus, you may experience common headaches, irritability, insomnia, and nausea.
Students don't respond well to stressed teachers.
Each human being has an energetic aura. When you are under physical and emotional tension, you radiate negative vibrations into the surroundings. Your students feel those vibes and they react to them. Sometimes the reaction may be the opposite of what you need at that moment: the students will start acting out.
They need a teacher who can stay calm, focused, and approachable during the classes. When you spread good vibes around you, you’ll discover friendly faces on the other side. With the right attitude, you can make them enthusiastic about the learning process. If you allow the state of stress to rule with your mind and behavior, you won’t be able to achieve that effect.
Stress Management for Teachers
Self-reflection is one of the most important methods that enable you to understand your emotions and actions. You can practice self-reflection through a specific meditation technique. Create a calm environment in your home. It would be best to meditate in an uncluttered room; you don’t want any mess to distract your attention outwards.
Take your time to practice this technique before going to bed. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and try to ‘watch a movie’ of your day. Play every scene in your head, but don’t experience the same emotions all over again. A colleague of yours frustrated you at 1 pm? Okay, you got mad and that moment went by. It’s not necessary to go through the same thoughts and emotions now. Simply recognize your actions.
As you continue practicing this technique regularly, you’ll become aware of the present moment and you’ll be capable for constant self-reflection. You will recognize the moments that stress you out and you’ll start being calmer in those situations. It takes time and regular practice, but this type of meditation always works.
Yoga is the antonym of stress. Find a good teacher, sign up for a class and practice regularly! As you make progress, you’ll notice that you can reduce your stress and anxiety level through breathing, different postures, relaxation, and meditation techniques.
You deserve it! When you’re too stressed, your muscles are stiff and your back hurts. That’s your body’s reaction to the disbalance in your thoughts and emotions.Your mental and emotional state affects your physical well-being, but the connection works in the other direction as well: when you relax your muscles, your inner state improves as well. You’ll benefit a lot from a good massage.
4. Remember the Positives
Teaching is an extremely rewarding profession. Why did you become a teacher? Remind yourself of the initial drive and enthusiasm you had when you started sharing your knowledge with students. You are making important contributions towards the development of future generations. You are important! When you recover the satisfaction you felt when you started teaching, you’ll be more resistant to the stressful situations that occur in the school and the classroom.
Schools Should Offer Stress Management Programs for Teachers
When you become more immune to stress, you’ll realize that you’ve done something of crucial importance for the quality of your life.
Say hello to the Bento Box. Many of you have probably heard of it, but maybe didn't take the time to look into exactly how to use it. It's been a lifesaver for me in past years where a 30 minute lunch felt more like 5.
To get started, I originally purchased four things. EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers - Set of 4 (I like the brights!), EasyLunchboxes Insulated Cooler Bag, 24 Pack of Silicon Baking Cups, and EasyLunchboxes Mini Containers. You can decide exactly which four of these things are essential for you, but I liked the flexibility of having all of them at my fingertips for whatever concoctions I could create. (As a side note, these links take you to my Amazon affiliate account. If you like what you see here and you'd like to see more of it, please support the blog by making your purchases from my links! It helps me keep the site going!)
Once you have your "lunch tools" - you're ready to start getting creative. There are so many sites with thousands of suggestions for how to use your Bento. The easiest thing for me was to always create a lunch out of whatever I made for dinner the night before. Tacos? No problem - plenty of compartments for toppings. Pasta and salad? There's room for that, too! The possibilities are endless with the Bento.
For my pinners, I created a board with thousands of ideas from different websites right here.
Not into pinning? No problem! Here are 5 of my favorites:
- Bento Lunches for Grown Ups by Following in my Shoes
- Bento Lunch Ideas by Smashed Peas and Carrots (Holy grail of Bento ideas!)
- Make lunch for the week - pack ahead and save time by EasyLunch Blog
- 32 Healthy and Photo-Worthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas by Greatist
- Over 50 Healthy Work Lunch Ideas by Family Fresh Meals
I hope this post inspired you to get creative with your lunches! Eating well is essential to having the energy to keep up with your kiddos. (Everyone knows if we could box their energy and sell it, we'd be billionaires.) How will you use the Bento this school year? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.
Ahhhhh, summer. An educator's favorite way to find their way back to themselves. We get lost in the school year. That's just how it is. Between lesson planning, differentiation, assessing data, phone calls with families, meetings with co-workers, fielding e-mails, creating seating charts, grading papers, finding resources - the list goes ON and ON.
Many people like to say, "Oh, you're a teacher? That's great, you get the summers off!" Anyone who loves a teacher knows that those hours were banked during the school year. And most of us continue working straight through the summer. Educators do this job because they love it, but that doesn't mean it's easy.
What's your favorite way to show yourself a little TLC during the summer?
1. Time to read and pedicures. - Ms. D in Philadelphia, PA
2. Taking a bath and watching my TV shows from the week! - Lauren in Madison, WI
3. I go to the bookstore and read. And read. And I let myself drink alllllll the coffee. During summer the coffee shop just sees me as part of the furniture (and give me lots of free refills). - Mr. C in North Carolina
4. a. Using Groupon to try out a bunch of places (especially spas and salons). b. Baking. c. Day drinking. d. Snuggling in bed. e. Not sweating when the to-do list isn’t complete at the end of the day. -Katie in Austin, TX
5. Checking out all the books I wanted to read during the school year and then reading them with a big mug of tea. - Alicia in Phoenix, AZ
6. Having time to read books that I actually want to read that don’t involve teaching! - Ms. A in New York
7. Coffee and a book on the front porch swing. -Jen in Mont Clare, PA
8. Having a completely unstructured day! - Annie in Pennsylvania
9. I love doing work-intensive recipes that I don’t have time for during the school year. I find cooking and baking so therapeutic, and it’s more fun when it’s in-season produce from our own garden! - Nicole in Columbia, SC
10. Going to the shore and sitting on the beach. - Sammie in New Jersey
What's your favorite way to relax in the summer? Comment below!
The Snarky Schoolteacher is an education and lifestyle blog run by dedicated educational professionals. Our goal is to bring you relevant and fun educational content with a side of sass. Read more about our team here. Thanks for visiting, and we hope you will find these ideas and resources helpful in your classrooms and in your lives.