Professional Learning

Twenty Teacher Tips for Beating Fatigue

Exhaustion sometimes comes with the job

February 28, 2012

I'm tired. There's too much going on outside of work, too much work inside of work. February is a much longer month this year. And there's another six weeks before spring break (mine is not a school district that has a February break). I'm reaching the tired that obliterates memory of antidotes.

So I'm going to brainstorm a list of what helps to prevent plunges into fatigue:

#1. Take a 10-minute walk. They say I'll feel the energetic benefits from a 10-minute walk for the following two hours.

#2. Blend frozen blueberries with almond milk, or even water. Always keep several bags of blueberries in freezer.

#3. Stop reading anything related to education for a week. Or cut down by 90 percent.

#4. Notice the moments in the day when I'm not tired. They do exist but when my overall state is tired, I miss all the other moments.

#5. Fantasize about the next school year. I find this energizing and revitalizing. There is a future beyond the immediate fatigue.

#6. Eat raw kale. I feel an almost caffeine-like rush of energy. Chop it up really small and add to salad or blueberry-smoothie. It also balances out the jellybean consumption that increases with tiredness.

#7. Work in 45-minute time blocks. While the timer is on, don't divert attention for anything -- no checking email, clipping cuticles, or organizing bookshelves. Forty-five minutes of intense focus (set the timer) and then a 15-minute break. Take a walk during the break. Right now. Take a walk. I'm going to take my own advice. Now.

#8. Listen to music, really loud (can be combined with walking). And sing along. Janis Joplin just did wonders for my energy level.

#9. Take ten slow, long, deep breaths. Inhale. Hold for the count of five. Exhale, slowly.

#10. Pet a furry creature. There's science behind this: Petting an animal decreases blood pressure and increases endorphins.

#11. Limit the intake of news of any kind, even turn off NPR; listen to music. And sing. Bob Marley is good, too.

#12. Sniff fresh mint. Or mint tea. Or mint-extract. The smell is supposed to wake up the brain. (It can't hurt.)

#13. Take a walk with a friend who does not work in education and talk about trivial matters or reminisce about wild college days.

#14. Give your eight-year-old boy permission to tell you bathroom jokes. It's not the jokes that are funny, it's the fact that you've given him permission and the way his body contorts into peels of laughter; his joy is infectious and laughter is all about deep breathing and so there's a science behind it, too. It helps.

#15. Look for other jobs. This either makes me really appreciate my job or it reminds me that there might be something else out there. Usually, however, I am happy to return to my work.

#16. Ask for support from those around you, especially if they are getting fed up with you being so tired. Declare your intentions and then beg them to remind you of this one: "I am never, ever going to write a book again! Even if I get all excited about some other project, remind me not to do it." Those others can also make you tea, or squeeze your shoulders (which are beginning to inch into your ears).

#17. Take naps. Sleep a little extra. Those eight hours are not to be messed with.

#18. Make lists like this, reminding myself of what helps when I'm really tired.

#19. If all else fails, watch your favorite tv show. (I do like Breaking Bad except for the fact that there's a distant connection to education which I try to ignore.)

#20. Ask others for advice and tips.

So, Edutopia Community, after six intense months of work and overwhelm, along with a full life outside of your job, what do you do to alleviate the tired? Please share!

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