Anyone who suffers from chronic anxiety knows the struggle of getting through the day without becoming overwhelmed to the point of breaking down. While some days are better than others, daily life can still be challenging. When you add trying to plan lessons, manage a classroom, finish paperwork, and attend meetings to the world of someone dealing with anxiety, teaching can quickly become a seemingly impossible task. There are ways to succeed in the classroom, though. Check out these 5 tips to keep yourself cool and collected while teaching.
The word “planning” gets thrown around in the teaching community without teachers really paying attention to what it means. Planning is not a term exclusive to lesson plans; it encompasses the entire day – or week – as a whole. A teacher not only needs to plan lessons but also to needs to keep a calendar or datebook to help them clear their minds of clutter. Trying to keep everything in your mind keeps you from staying in the moment where you need to be while teaching. Take time at the beginning of the week to fill in a calendar with the upcoming week’s events and have a small notebook with you whenever possible to jot down things to take care of later.
Be prepared for change.
Teaching is unique in the fact that there is never a day without surprises. From a child becoming ill in class to your principal calling for an impromptu meeting, plans can change in an instant. This is difficult for anyone to handle, but it becomes exceptionally more difficult for teachers with chronic anxiety. Remind yourself to breathe through the spike of anxiety when the change is announced and do your best to take it in stride.
Find moments to center yourself.
There are very few times when a teacher is truly by themself, but during the few minutes you have lunch or during your planning period, take a few minutes to practice a breathing exercise or, if you have the time, meditate briefly. Re-centering yourself will help you manage anxiety when it flares up.
Keep inspiration close by.
Teachers do not put in long hours and hard work just because they need a job. Every teacher was inspired by someone to make education their career. It is important to have reminders of that inspiration in places you can easily see them for days when meditation just isn’t enough. Keep a picture on your desk or a knick-knack that reminds you of your inspiration on a shelf.
Put yourself, and your health, first.
No matter how good you are at planning or classroom management, there will be days when that just isn’t enough. If you feel yourself winding up or beginning to panic, find a way to get out for a few minutes. Ask another teacher to cover for you briefly or find someone to watch your class while you manage the anxiety. You are not helping anyone if you try to push through the anxiety just to try and show that you’re “strong.” If you need a break, find a way to take one. There’s no shame in putting your health above the need to be in the classroom.
Anxiety can affect anyone at any time. It is a chronic health condition that plagues many people. Those people are not weak or less capable. They are perfectly able to be successful teachers who balance their health with their school life, especially when they follow the advice offered here. The next time you find yourself struggling, think back on these tips and allow yourself the freedom to take care of yourself and the children in your classroom.