However, apart from needing these things to get us through the day, there are greater ramifications of this exhaustion that are to be considered. For example, it is one of the major contributors to burnout (1), as well as there being studies that fatigue could be a precursor to coronary heart disease (2). It is also very likely to be one of the reasons why in the UK so many teachers are leaving the profession. As stated in an article in The Independent, ‘10,000 departed the profession between 2010 and 2015, and the pace of that loss is speeding up as disillusionment grows.’ (3)
When considering what causes this exhaustion, the first thing that may pop into people’s minds is the well-known fact that teachers are overworked. There is too much marking, writing reports, lesson planning and general admin to get through on top of the actual classes which need to be taught. Moreover, when in the classroom, the teacher is trying to manage, engage and sometimes entertain a room full of children or teenagers who are not always the most cooperative at the best of times. This often expends much of a teacher’s energy, and even more so when adrenalin is the source of the drive.
It is true that these things are all very real issues and what teachers are dealing with day-to-day, but could it be that these issues are not the core reasons as to why our profession is in desperate need of some rest?
Imagine there were two teachers, both with exactly the same amount of workload, deadlines and pressure. However, one of them walks in resentment, frustration, given up-ness, and a feeling that whatever they do, it won’t be enough. Then on the flipside, we have the other teacher who is walking in absolute appreciation of themself, of what they have to offer their students and colleagues, and of the gold that they are bringing to the school. Which one do you think would be more exhausted?
The second teacher, on the other hand, pays attention to the quality in which they go about doing their tasks, taking care and consideration of even the details which may be brushed over by most. There are no ups and downs with the second teacher, just a steady consistency of the appreciation and joy that they hold in their body.
Furthermore, if we consider these two hypothetical professionals, it would also be easy to guess which one needs the stimulants to get through the day and which one opts for more supportive way to nourish the body, such as hydrating with water and eating foods that nourish and add to the vitality that is already there.
Could it be that it is the quality in which we work, that brings on the exhaustion and, in actual fact, if someone was to maintain that way of being throughout the day, the quality of their sleep would also improve, so that they would wake up feeling refreshed and actually eager to get to work? They may even find that working in such a way that they feel a true purpose to everything they do, actually energises them, as opposed to the usual feeling of being drained.
If what has been presented here is true, then it is clear that with the majority of us living in a way that closely matches the first example, considering such dramatic changes in life and behaviour seems like an impossible feat to tackle. However, as we know, Rome was not built in a day and the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. In the same vein, if one wishes to start making true changes to their life, the simple, small loving steps are what count, starting with how we take care and nurture ourselves on a day-to-day basis.
This could include;
- A change in the time one goes to bed
- Trying different foods that might be more supportive
- When going for the tea or coffee, checking in to feel if you may actually need water instead.
- Having a marker during the day (like when you use the photocopier) to feel how you are and to remember to be gentle with yourself
- At the end of the day, thinking of one little thing that you appreciate about the day.
There are many possible little changes that we could make to our daily lives to support us in tackling this issue of exhaustion. The key is to experiment, observe, keep it light and playful, don’t give yourself a hard time when it doesn’t go right, and to appreciate every little thing that you do, no matter how small it is.