Teachers need to disconnect from school more than ever. There are so many new challenges and we are digitally more connected with the new technology. It can be tough for teachers to disconnect from school. For sanity’s sake, here are some ways to disconnect from a hard day.
I distinctly remember being a second-year teacher and coming home, pulsating irritation after a long day. My husband and I went for a walk, and I spent the entire time ranting about a problematic student and unrealistic expectations from administration. After a few minutes of careful listening, my husband was soon over giving so much space to my bad attitude, so then I was irritated at him too. Needless to say, when I got back from the walk, I felt worse rather than better.
We all have those days, and we all have those days where we have bad attitudes about having those days. Because of that, I try to implement some tips & tricks for leaving the funk of a bad day at school, so my unpleasant day doesn’t make for a lousy evening. Here are eight things I do to try to improve my mood after a tough day:
1. car dance party!
After a tough day, I sometimes refuse to let that energy even enter my car. I put my music on Shuffle because I love the unexpected element, turn it up, and then I sing and dance. (Note: Skip any boring or mellow songs.) Yes, students and faculty may see me dancing in my car (which is a little embarrassing) but it makes me feel good and it might make someone else smile a little too.
2. repeat a mantra.
I am really hard on myself and there are days when I feel like I failed again and again. Some days, I’m not in the mood to be silly on my drive home. On those days, before I even leave the building, I write down a few sentences for myself on a notecard and, as I start driving, I repeat the sentences to myself. The first time I did this, I admittedly felt a bit foolish, but it actually worked. My favorite one to repeat is, “I did my best today.” Even if I feel like a total screw-up, it is true that I always try my best and that’s all I can do.
3. 10 minute clean-up.
I’ve been implementing this at my house for several years now. I think a lot of teachers have a problem of coming through their front door, weighted down with our work bag, dirty lunch dishes, and layers of clothing so we can dress up or down according to how our room thermostat is acting that day. I dump all of this junk by the door. Then, I set a kitchen timer and literally run around my house to see if I can get everything put away before the ten minutes is up. It’s a fun challenge, and my house looks good afterwards! (Note: Use the last 30 seconds to light a candle. It helps.)
4. Get outside.
Especially with the weather getting more and more pleasant, I love to come home from the day and head straight to my back porch. Even just spending ten minutes outside, listening to the sounds of nature and playing with my kids, can completely relax me. I try to notice all the ways our world is so beautiful (the color of the sky, the swaying of the leaves in the breeze, etc) and it reminds me, especially when our world feels so chaotic, that things carry on and so can I.
This one has really been a game-changer for me since things shut down in March. With some of my extra free time then, I started exercising more. It is so good for my mental health and I’ve been keeping it up more for that than even for the physical benefits. One of my favorite activities to do is boxing. It is a great way to release negative energy and it makes me feel powerful.
6. Shower or change clothes.
Jumping in the shower after a hard day feels like literally washing the negativity down the drain. I don’t do this often but it is a nice way to separate the work day from the evening. Afterwards, I slip into a pair of pajamas or something cozy, which helps my brain shift into home mode.
7. give yourself ten minutes.
Tell the kids that you need ten minutes. They will survive, trust me. Light a candle. Make yourself a cup of tea. Put your phone away. Grab a book or just sit in the quiet. Really let yourself relax into that ten minutes. You deserve it and the sense of calm will follow you once it’s over.
Speaking of calm, on my worst days, I sometimes need ten minutes to slow my brain down with a guided meditation app I use called Calm. As I mentioned, I am a perfectionist which sometimes boils over into anxiety. I’ve started using Calm as a way to sit in the moment, acknowledge my emotions, and then let them go. They used to give a discount to teachers but, unfortunately, I do not think they do that right now. That being said, it has proven a good investment to me and one I should turn to more often.
I hope you can try one or two of these suggestions to leave a bad day behind. We teachers are going through a lot right now, and it is so important that we are able to focus on our mental and emotional health. Don’t forget to prioritize yourself! And let me know if you have any tips I should try.
Want more tips to saving your sanity? Read this post about thriving in your teacher evaluation.