Below is an excerpt from Lisa Lucas’s book of simple self-care strategies for teachers, Practicing Presence. This is just one many tips from this wonderful resource that are designed to help teachers from feeling “tired, wired, and running in circles.”
When you are focused intently on a task, sooner or later you experience attention fatigue. It’s as if your brain says, “Enough, I need a break.” It’s literally an overworked muscle. You become irritable, distracted, or simply ineffective. It’s your body’s signal to take a break. Instead of pushing through to complete a task, walk away. I should have learned long ago that it’s more beneficial to briefly step away from the task at hand than to continue to spin your wheels in frustration.
“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.” —DALE CARNEGIE
To avoid overload, delegation is key. Set a goal to become interdependent, not independent. Assign your students as many of the routine classroom tasks as possible; in your home, delegate to whomever else shares your space. One of my favorite stories to read my own children was The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (1955) by Edwin DuBose Heyward. In the story, the mother bunny of twenty-one children delegates beautifully all of the household tasks so that she can become the first female Easter Bunny. It was hard at first for me to follow this model, but now I’m a convert!
Get enough sleep. Hallowell (2006) suggests the amount it takes to wake up without an alarm clock, which for most adults, is about eight hours.
Consider your food fuel. There are many books on this subject, but I had a major shift in mind-set when I started thinking about how food affected my energy level. I have found the quality of my nutrition has a direct impact on my energy level and productivity. Research shows that diets full of omega-3 fatty acids (think fish and nuts) help us stay sharp and stave off cognitive declines later in life. I store almonds in my car and my desk at work. Also, don’t forget to hydrate. Our brain cells need consistent fluid levels to function. When we’re dehydrated, our short-term memory suffers, we feel tired, and we have difficulty focusing. Take a large water bottle (approximately sixty-four ounces) to work, add some lemons and mint, or whatever will make it most appealing to your palate, and make it a goal to have it finished before you complete your commute home. I’ve found that being well hydrated and fueled with healthy food helps combat fatigue. Conscious nutrition has to do with listening to your body’s wisdom, and we do that when we are fully present while eating and drinking. Does this mean I never eat a cookie or a chip? Of course not, but I make sure I am fully present so that I can enjoy every bite.
To learn more self-care strategies designed specifically for teachers, get Practicing Presence today from Stenhouse.com and take advantage of our educator discount plus free shipping.