I sat at my classroom desk, tears of frustration streaming down my face. My classroom looked like a tornado hit it: chairs misplaced and papers with unsolved math problems strewn everywhere. It was only 2:30 in the afternoon.
I felt exhausted, defeated, and disconnected.
It may be cold comfort, but you are definitely not alone. It can feel like a such a lonely journey as you rally yourself once again to meet the never-ending demands of the day.
You Are Also a Priority
As teachers, we are accustomed to putting our students first, and those students will always be at the heart of why we do what we do. It seems almost selfish to extend that loving kindness to ourselves as well.
But researcher Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself believes that self-compassion is not selfish. Rather, it’s an essential component of being human, and being human means it’s OK to struggle, and we are not alone in that struggle. Neff references three components of self-compassion: self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity.
Starting today, try this simple mindfulness exercise to give yourself a moment of self-kindness whenever you need it. It's easy—and you already know how to do it! Just breathe.
Mindful Breathing Stress-Buster Exercise
During moments of chaos, stop whatever you are doing, and:
- Notice your body.
- Relax your muscles.
- Close your eyes.
- Bring attention to your breath.
- Inhale deeply and hold for five seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat five times.
- Ease back into what you were doing before this exercise.
- Have faith. Keep breathing.
Want a few more tips to get you through the day?
Check out former educator and breathing guru Danielle Sullivan's paper, The Connection Cure: Why Educators Need Balance, Laughter, and Community More Than Ever.