Stress is omnipresent. Eustress. Distress. Good. Bad. Our physical bodies respond chemically to it, and it’s important to have a toolbox of stress-reducing ideas so that we can function effectively in our everyday lives. Although this challenge pertains to ‘leaving it behind’ so that you don’t take it into the classroom, I tend to struggle more with ‘leaving it behind’ so I don’t take it home with me to my children and husband. Because I believe education is 24/7, I don’t have a line of demarcation showing where my professional life ends and my personal life begins- I’m doing what I love, and that means I chose to spend free time learning and growing in that area. It’s not those that cause the stress- its usually how I respond to the daily things that challenge my capacity to do the things I love.
Here are some ideas for leaving the stress behind, or managing it when you feel it piling up!
Tension Toolbox: At School
- Use some kind of aromatherapy in your classroom- diffusers, WallFlowers, or even hand lotion can help.
- Have a haven- find someplace to retreat to within your workplace. This can be a compassionate colleague’s room, a special corner of your digs, or a quiet area that’s rarely used.
- Use a meditation mobile app or podcast.
- Bring funny slippers to calm tired feet and bring a smile to your face and others.
- Tune into the inspiration stream that is Twitter. Usually, a 3-5 min. time reading will help put the situation in perspective.
- Write an encouraging card/note to a friend. Sometimes, all we need is to start thinking about other people.
- Play that funky music- no need to buy! Use Pandora, YouTube Music, or Jamendo. ((I was having an unfabulous day earlier this week, but George Couros @gcouros shared the Wham “Freedom” YouTube video that morning…. and I was able to play it during the day and find a way to laugh off the stress. You can’t not dance through life with that kind of song! Retro flashbacks.))
- Include your students in some things that really make you smile. For some reason, we all love the game in line where everyone gives “moose ears” ((And yes, we know that those are really antlers, and not ears!)) It cracks me up, and they love it too. Usually, that is a sure-fire way for me to start genuinely smiling again if things have gone awry during the day.
Tension Toolbox II: At Home
- Turn off the noise and just be. Let all those thoughts of the day, worries, etc. have some space to roll around your head. No radio, MP3, cell phone calls…. just silence.
- Slow down. Purposely walk slower getting to the car. Make it a leisurely drive home, rather than a race.
- Change out of your ‘work clothes’. Even if they’re still clean, there’s something freeing about putting on ‘play clothes’.
- Exercise. Always a good choice.
- Have a humor list in your Feed Reader. There are a couple that I turn to when I have to lighten up, and I end up with tears streaming down my face because I’m laughing so hard.
- Make a list of ‘fun’ things that work for everyone in your family to do in the evening. For me, the list feels super short given the age ranges of our children. ((I finally had to announce I would no longer be playing Candyland. I was trying to suffer through it graciously to spend time with my kids, but I hate that game. There are plenty of other things that we can do that are a “win-win” situation.))
How do you leave the stress behind? Do you practice this coming into the classroom as going out?