Sunday, August 10, 2014

Stress and Self Care

One thing I have been working on practically my whole life, and continue to tackle is managing my anxiety. I am happy and proud to report that I am, for the most part, in control of my anxiety the vast majority of the time. I was not always, and it was a long process of self analysis to figure out what triggers anxiety for me.

Unfortunately, the primary trigger, is transition periods. I am doing fairly well managing my anxiety about going from a relationship to being single, but am extremely anxious about student teaching instead. Spending the last two years hearing about how grueling it is, and how stressful, as well as how stressed and overworked we should be (a professor's comment, believe it or not), has made me feel entirely unprepared.

There is nothing more untrue than that feeling. I am entirely prepared. I have experience with handling groups of children already and am reasonably good at classroom management already. My lessons are always well thought out and are more often successful than not. I had a couple of previous field experiences that left me a little bit discouraged and frustrated, but others that really encouraged me and built me up. Everything is very dependent on the cooperating teacher for me in terms of feeling encouraged. I am meeting with my first cooperating teacher this Tuesday, and I am hoping that my anxieties will be significantly reduced as I help her set up her classroom and get to know the school.

Additionally, I am calling BS on a professor's claim that if I have any life at all outside of student teaching for the duration of the 15 weeks, then I am probably not making the most of the experience. An unhappy teacher is unlikely to have happy students. And a completely unbalanced life will always cause a teacher (or person) to be unhappy on some level. I want to be the very best I can be for the students, and give them the best I can give. To do that, I need to make sure I focus on self care as well as lesson planning.

So I am making a list of things I pledge to do during student teaching that are just for me, and will revive me so I can be more energized and dedicated to my work in return.

1. Walk at least 30 minutes, five days per week, weather permitting.
2. Manage my schedule so I put down all work and relax by 9pm most weeknights, if not all.
3. Try to dedicate one weekend day, or two half days each weekend day, to fun. Preferably with friends.
4. Take a bath weekly, and make time to do all the beauty pampering things I love so much.
5. Read one non academic book per week. *This one is a lofty goal, but I currently read at a pace of two to three books per week. Minimum of a book every other week.*
6. Start guided meditation. A friend gave me some she likes, and I want to start giving it a try.
7. If I can save up enough money, book a cheap hotel somewhere local (but not too local) and beautiful for a night during my week off in between placements.
8. Continue to make time for dating, albeit not super intensely, if a guy worth dating comes around.
9. Spend 20 minutes each day tidying up and cleaning, preventing the need to do much intense cleaning sessions and maintaining a space I love coming home to.
10. Keep cooking. As tired as I get. I am cooking some freeze-able things in the next couple weeks, but I also need to make time to make nutritious and healthy food (ideally with portable leftovers that can be easy and delicious lunches) at least on weekends so I can focus on other things during the week without sacrificing my health and weight loss goals.

I feel really good about the attitude I am going into this with - in December, I will recap and see which ones I was able to stick to!

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