Teacher burnout is a very real thing, but by the time you start looking for advice on how to stop burnout, you are likely already consumed by it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Believe it or not, now during your summer vacation is the best time to start thinking about teacher burnout. By creating a plan now you’ll be able to keep that burnout at bay as the year goes on.
Because teachers need to meet the academic and emotional needs of their students, they are more prone to high levels of emotional exhaustion. Struggling to balance both of these objectives in the classroom is an overwhelming task. Teachers are stretched thin, which is why burnout is so common.
Every teacher experiences burnout at some point during the school year. The problem arises when this burnout lingers for more than a couple days. This can lead to ineffective teaching, poor mental health, and even poor physical health.
You shouldn’t dread your time in the classroom. You went into your profession for a reason, and there are steps you can take to help you reduce and hopefully eliminate teacher burnout.
- Practice Relaxing
Breathing techniques, meditation, and mindfulness are all great ways to relax, but picking them up can be challenging. Practice these skills now so when you are stressed out at school it’s already a habit to use them to make your mind and body more relaxed.
This article from WebMD offers some great relaxation techniques. Try experimenting to see what works best for you.
- Stay Healthy
Poor physical health has a strong impact on your mental health. Skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, and not getting enough exercise can all make it harder for you to cope with stress at school.
Check out this post for more in-depth advice about simple ways you can stay healthy when it comes to nutrition, exercise, mental health, and sleep.
- Confide In Co-Workers
Work on building strong relationships with your fellow teachers and administrators. Pretending that everything is going well in your classroom doesn’t help anyone. Share your struggles with your co-workers and seek out advice. They may be able to help you.
No one knows your students the way you and other teachers in your school do. By consulting them, you can get amazing feedback about managing student behaviors, editing lesson plans, and just about anything else causing you stress.
- Pursue Your Hobbies
It’s easy to spend your free time browsing Pinterest for new ideas for your classroom. Stop doing that. Even if you enjoy it, your brain needs a break from work. Instead spend that time pursuing a hobby you enjoy, or possibly trying out a new one.
- Set Boundaries
Having a clear work-life balance is one of the most important things you can do to avoid burnout. Sometimes you may have to stay late at work or grade at home, but set boundaries to ensure that teaching doesn’t take over your entire life.
Don’t give your personal phone number to parents. Only check your email at school – don’t even have it connected to your phone. Don’t grade every assignment. Make sure there is separation between your personal life and your school life.
- Remember You Can’t Save The World
It’s impossible not to feel connected with the problems your students face. Children who are homeless, have experienced trauma, and who face challenging issues at home will all tug at your heartstrings. While you should do what you can for these students it isn’t always going to be enough and that is something you have to accept.
You can’t solve every problem a student faces, and eventually you have to learn to let go. Do what you can to help but don’t blame yourself if that doesn’t solve the problem. With all the students you meet you simply will not be able to help all of them.
- Use Your Time Off
If you’ve been given time off for sick leave or personal days, don’t feel guilty for using them! Taking a day off can be extremely beneficial to your mental health. And believe it or not, you can take time off without feeling guilty.
When planning to use a personal day, try to choose a day that is easy to plan for your substitute. By doing this in advanced your students will still get quality lessons. Use your day off to do something you enjoy and catch up on errands – and absolutely no school work.
- Eliminate Fluff
Fluff can be described as tasks you don’t really need to be doing. Take some time to think about the tasks you do that can be eliminated. Think about how important this task might be. Compare this with how much time the task takes. If it isn’t necessary, you can likely eliminate it, giving you more time to focus on tasks that are more useful.
It’s also a great way to simply cut time from your workday. Do you need to grade every paper? Do you need to give individual feedback for each assignment? You’ll be surprised at how many of your tasks really aren’t necessary for your classroom.
- Make Time For Yourself
Between tasks for school, chores at home, and taking care of your own children (if you have them), it is easy to forget to take time for yourself. But if you want to avoid burnout, taking time to relax and do things for yourself is imperative.
Even taking just 30 minutes a day can do wonders for your mental health. Use this time to do something you want to do, with no distractions or obligations. This may be reading, taking a bath, drinking a glass of wine…whatever it is you like to do to unwind.
- Try Something New
While trying out new activities in the classroom can be stressful, it can also be exciting. Trying something new is a great way to change up the routine you may start to dread.
Here’s a few ways you can change things up in the classroom if you’re looking for inspiration!
Help out your fellow teachers and let us know what your tips are to prevent teacher burnout!