Teachers know the feeling well: It’s Sunday night and you feel the churning of your stomach, thoughts racing through your mind, increased heart rate, and anxiety building in your neck…and you spend all night awake thinking of all the things you need to do. This is what I called the Sunday Blues. Mix this in with a Type-A personality and a high-stakes environment, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for S.T.R.E.S.S.
Even after being in the classroom for six years, the feeling has never really gone away. Instead, I’ve found ways to cope with the Sunday Blues and find ways to manage my work-life balance. I am no where NEAR a balance that I hope to have, but things are getting better.
This past week I found myself feeling particularly anxious, in part due to the work load and stress of teaching content that is extremely new and rigorous with my students, but also due to other factors that come along with working in a highly collaborative, highly people-oriented job.
The tension laid in my neck, I could feel myself being “on edge” and I felt my mood take a dip. When this happens, I know the feeling so well that I now try to actively fight it. I grabbed the stack of post-it notes on my desk, took a star-shaped one, and I began jotting down all of the things that brought a smile to me face during the day. The note read something like this:
Highlights of my week:
- A student who checks in with me after every lesson so that he can give me “feedback.” The feedback has been that my lessons are “great and very inspiring.” How could I NOT smile after that?
- Random hugs from a particular student who I never expected it from.
- Sharing corny jokes with one student during lunch. These jokes go like this:
- “I grow my corny jokes on the right side of the farm!”
- “Today’s joke of the day is writing related…too bad it won’t fit on one page!”
- “Let’s see…well, I can see because I have eyes, but today’s joke is…”
- A random phone call mid-week from a friend that I don’t always see or hear from, but it’s nice to know that I am a trusted confidant for them and them for me.
- Sharing encouraging texts with one of my best friends who always knows how to offer advice on life, or share with me some encouragement to uplift my spirit.
- Talking to my mom via WeChat and leaving good morning messages to each other.
- Having a heart to heart with one of my best friends in her car.
- Beginning to plan a family trip in December.
As my week continued, the post it note became multiple notes, and my feelings of anxiety began to lessen. My sense of gratitude and fulfillment began to outweigh the feelings of stress and I slowly felt myself recalibrating to a level that felt comfortable for me. I found my footing again and by the end of the week, I felt gratitude for a job that allows my cup to be refilled consistently and quickly. Completely exhausted by the week, I found an even deeper gratitude for my bed.
Jokes aside, I found this practice of jotting down the small joys a way for me to focus on the things that were going well, the things that made me happy, and the things that made me smile. The work as a teacher will always feel never-ending and will never be done, but I’m reminding myself that amidst all the stress, there is always good to be found.
Finding time to be grateful for the people and things in our lives has reminded me the power it holds to shift our thinking and uplift our moods. Gratitude has never failed to recenter me and has never failed to put myself in a better place emotionally. I’m learning to find time to be still with these feelings, even when my days and weeks all feel like one big blur. *insert wide eyed emoji*
While I’m bracing myself for another very busy week, I’m going in with the positive intention of making the most of my long days and to be on the hunt for “good-finding.” I’ll be doing the same this week and challenge you to keep a list of all the things that bring you a smile to your face and the things you are grateful for. Feel free to comment below with one thing you’re grateful for! Let’s do this together…because after all, there really is so much to be grateful for in this world.
Wishing you all a beautiful week ahead!
What I’m wearing:
- Waffle print, jersey knit jumper, AKA the most comfortable jumpsuit there ever was. Unfortunately, this is from a store called Cali Blue which does not have a website.
- [Old] Old Navy purse, similar here; $22
- Caslon block heel