The constant feelings of depletion, sore throat, achy joints and slight pains here and there were the hallmarks of what I considered to be the norm. Making the time to stop and reboot was not on the radar as the teaching workloads continued to increase and taking a moment seemed out of the question. Hearing the same sharing from others, I had convinced myself that this was normal and that you just had to keep at it and hopefully over time things would get better.
Looking back now I noticed that I was brilliant at keeping the pace going, overriding the signs to stop and recharge and a whizz at brushing off any comments from others to look after myself and take time to rest, no matter how brief those moments were. My friends and family kept saying it, but my ‘teacher focussed’ mind kept ignoring it.
I was coping with the physical tiredness, but after a while it became ‘mentally tiring’ as well and this was where the exhaustion crept in.
Reading regular mail outs from the Teachers Are Gold website in my inbox, I started to appreciate that the sharing from other teachers resonated with me. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way and there were simple, yet tangibly practical tools I could apply realistically to my every day. These were being shared by teachers just like me, living and working in schools who were supporting others to appreciate another way to work and be in this profession.
Exhaustion got replaced with Appreciation and was the key tool to start the ball rolling. I began with a simple small appreciation of myself once a day when I was starting to feel tired and would either sit or take a moment to just be with my students. This brief yet powerful moment was a huge anchor to support me to stop and feel where my body was at - acknowledging what was going on, whether I needed to reposition my stance, take a sip of water, gently rotate my shoulders or go deeper to own how much joy and immense love I have for teaching and the students in my care.
Over time I gradually built more of these moments into my day, as I wanted to make sure that this would not be neglected over time, otherwise I would be back to square one again. It started to make a noticeable difference and I knew I was on a win with this one. I became more relaxed, more open with others, took time to ‘smell the roses’ and even noticed my levels of productivity increase. Like any teacher who has just found a jackpot of resources, I began blocking a section of my work pad each day and highlighted the letter A for Appreciation so it became just as important as the core subjects.
I had noticed that …
Caring for my inner health through a simple appreciation was bringing changes to my outer health.
The reality is I still get tired at the end of the day, but now it is the normal physical tiredness that comes from working each day and I’m no longer masking exhaustion with tiredness. Looking back now on the small, yet very helpful changes, I am appreciating the fact that I took the plunge to do something about this – taking a step back and realising the way I was working was supporting no one and taking on board a simple tool such as appreciation made the world of difference.