The idea of ‘mindfulness’ keeps going up and up, making us contemplate our work-life balance, which is really hard to achieve, especially if you have to work long hours and cope with an unfriendly timetable. Haven’t you felt worn out?
The way I see it, in present rapid pace of life we get a lot of buzz from doing too many things at the same time. We feel a sense of achievement only if we struggle to meet several deadlines, force and torture ourselves by taking on a wide range of challenges. However, staying focused and being constantly busy can’t last without bringing about stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
My suggestion for teachers is to start considering what changes you can make to have physical and mental strength to meet your learners’ expectations and keep bringing joy to your classroom. As Sarah Mercer noticed at IATEFL 2017 “the teachers are the magic that take place in education” so it must be crucial to take time to do something job-unrelated. I believe teaching can be inspiring if we avoid burnout.
Here is a list of basic tips to improve your work-life balance:
- Adjust your body clock
- Building a habit of going to bed at the same time can help you sleep better.
- Breathing exercise and meditation can relieve stress and help you fall asleep.
- Getting up half an hour earlier to plan your day ahead will reduce anxiety.
- Find time for seeing friends
- Hanging out and having regular get-togethers are great sources of human happiness.
- You can make your friends happy by arranging an interesting day or evening at a place of your interest.
- You will also get ideas for lessons as you have to give your students real-life examples.
- Plan your free time in advance
- Consider saving some evenings for going out.
- Regular exercise, such as a two-hour walk in a nearby park, is a good habit.
- Write about your plans in the diary as these activities are as important as answering emails or setting goals for work-related projects.
To be honest, all teachers I know are awesome people. They are eager to create a supportive learning environment and motivate their learners. That is why, I feel the need to highlight that all of us love doing what we do on a regular basis, which means that me-time doesn’t contradict teaching-related activities.
Spending some time for reflecting on your experience after each lesson or at least at the end of the day is a key to professional growth and satisfaction. There are many ways of recharging the batteries but this one can help you become aware of what you really need. Here are some ideas.
- Contemplate what had been good and praise yourself for good work.
- Think what was missing or what you would like to add to the lesson to facilitate learning of some individual students or the whole group – now you have a goal for the next lesson.
- Plan how you can motivate your students by using a new activity, a teaching technique or bringing something interesting to class.
- Consider what can exhilarate your students and boost their confidence – that may be something simple such as asking them the right questions, showing your interest in their lives and talking about their achievements.
To conclude, there is no ready-made recipe for a person to feel happy but it seems that teachers might improve their creativity by becoming less obsessed with work. That is likely to involve thinking and evaluating your daily routines to be able to make certain changes in teaching and personal life habits.
What do you do to avoid burnout?