With a week until the first day of school, I find myself with poor sleep, a knot in between my shoulder blades and worry lines between my eyebrows. How can I find myself feeling stressed already? Quite easily when the school is a disaster, unfinished construction that will not be completed by the first day of school, disgruntled staff for whom I don’t have answers, and a hugely growing population and no more room in the building for growth. The frustration of so many things beyond my control is what is causing the stress, I can only manage my reaction to these things.
I need to keep in mind that it is not my responsibility to be everything to everybody. Adults should be able to problem-solve–I should not solve every problem. It creates stress when I find myself reacting to the words and actions of others. I need to keep in mind that I only have control over my own actions, and that unless it’s a medical emergency (and really, how often do those actually happen?), it’s okay to not react immediately. I am in control of my own emotions and actions, it’s my job to manage them appropriately, even in the heat of the moment.
My board has identified staff wellness as a priority this year. I am happy, because well adults are much better able to service the needs of students. And make for a much happier culture and school climate. We all need to care for each other–and that includes me caring about staff, and staff reciprocating.
I sincerely wish all educators a smooth transition back to school. We are in this together, and our passion for educating children is what makes us keep coming back, year after year.
One area that we don’t often spend enough time thinking about in the realm of education is personal health and well-being. We focus largely on student health and well-being, and often put ourselves last in the haze of never-ending paperwork and responsibilities. We also tend to think about the well-being of our staff, and yet who is thinking about our well-being if we’re not?
As I consider this, as in years past, I know that making my own health is a priority. We all need to take downtime and find ways to positively manage stress. In my other life, I am a yoga teacher, and practice both yoga and meditation–when not distracted by school. It’s ironic that I counsel and teach others how to manage their stress, yet allow my own stress to remain unchecked.
One of the manifestations of a stressful career and lifestyle is being at an unhealthy weight. When I consider how many educators are at an unhealthy weight, I find it alarming. We are a group of adults who model and teach children and young people about health. Clearly as a whole, we need to change things up. Manage our stress. Exercise. Eat well. Essentially at the heart of it, if we’re not healthy adults, we are not able to do our jobs to the best of our ability. Which only compounds the stress.
I have done a significant amount of work with my board around the mental health and well-being of our students. I think it’s time that I invest my energies into working to improve the health and well-being of staff. One of the ways that I’ve already begun, is sitting on the local OPC group’s executive, and endeavouring to improve our working conditions and manage the amount of work and stress being downloaded by senior admin to principals and vice-principals.
I am happy to know that at our administrators symposium this August, in addition to having Dr. Marion Small present as our PD opportunity, I am offering yoga classes to anyone who would like to participate. It’s small, but it’s a start. And hopefully it will grow from there.