Remember That You Have a Soul

One of the promises that I made myself this year was that I wanted to learn how to be a good and effective teacher, without all of the personal costs. It is possible for us to be effective teachers without all of the heartbreak, emotional burn outs and hours of crippling work. Each and every day I try to figure out ways to work smarter rather than harder. But it has taken me a long time to get to this point and even then, I still have not quite mastered the skill. 

The reason why the transition of changing ones’ work ethic is so difficult, and a struggle for most, is because we have to change the way that we have been conditioned; our programming if you will. In order to change the way that we work, we have to be aware of the thought processes and past experiences that drive our current working behaviours. This in itself is a difficult thing to do and not everyone is ready to explore that side of themselves. 

I would argue that many human beings, and not just teachers, live their lives on auto-pilot. We have so many different tasks, trials and tribulations that we have to face each and every day that we often switch into autopilot. This is where that expression comes from, ‘I woke up one morning and I had no idea how I got there or how my life ended up the way that it did'. So many of us make the mistake of just doing things, or behaving in certain ways because that’s the way we have been programmed to live. We allow our busy lives to sweep us up from under our feet, and we accidentally forget that we are an individual that has a soul.

This is a common issue with teachers, we are such dedicated and hardworking creatures, that we often feel that in order for our children to thrive, we must sacrifice everything that we have such as: our energy, our home lives, our relationships with our friends, our food and even giving up the activities that we love. We sacrifice so much and yet not much is given back. As a wise person once said to me, if the relationship is unbalanced with one giving more than they are receiving, then the scale will eventually tip. 

So today I am here to remind all of you wonderful teachers that you are important and that you have a soul that needs to be nurtured. Here are five suggestions of how you can start putting the scale back to a normal balanced state.  

1)    Give yourself restrictions on the number of hours you work – AND STICK TO THEM

2)    Find a hobby or activity that makes you smile – mine is ballroom dancing and writing, what’s yours? 

3)    Try to switch having lots of hot caffeinated drinks for water or herbal teas

4)    Be mindful of what you are doing – Do you need to be doing this? Why are you doing it? What benefit does it bring to the children? Is this for you or the children?

5)    Remember that it is okay to say NO - we do not and cannot do everything – Can you fit it into your busy schedule? Do you have the time to do it? Why do you have to be the person who does it? 

These simple acts can make all the difference between being a teacher always on the verge of a burn-out, or being someone who is mindful and whom enjoys their career and more importantly, their existence.

Once you're looking after your own wellbeing you can set the example and help your students look after their wellbeing too. Could you practice mindfulness with your children? Read Ann-Marie's last blog, Mindfulness - Medicine for the Mind.

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