Even though I'm not in the school setting anymore, September always reminds me of new beginnings, similar to New Years. It's the perfect time to reset and refresh all those stale routines you've grown to hate. I understand that many of you are back to school already (BEFORE SEPTEMBER?!) but these tips are helpful nonetheless. Below are some self-help tips to help you stay sane during this chaotic time, whether you are a teacher, a parent, or a *fill-in-the-blank* looking to employ some self-help strategies.
Get a Routine Down
Chances are, your routine is a little stale, or non-existent (read: Vacation Mode). It's time set your routine now, to make your life easier. The quicker you determine a routine that works for you and your family, the easier life will be!
Everyone's favorite pastime (not). Whether you run 5 miles a morning, or practice some post-dinner yoga, exercise should be a non-negotiable. The benefits of exercise are innumerable, but my anecdotal take is that, it just makes me feel good. When I feel good, I stress less, sleep better, and am able to handle more. Check out this post for ways to fit exercise into your already busy life.
Book a Massage
Not always feasible, but the idea here is to pamper yourself. My favorite way to do this is to book a message (often for cheap on Groupon, or with Back-to-School specials at various massage studios. Other ways to de-stress: get a mani/pedi, get a facial, or spend an hour one evening (preferably when no one is around to bother you) giving yourself the ultimate spa treatment.
Nobody feels good when they are running on empty, which is what I felt like at the end of every school day during these busy times (back-to-school, holidays, testing time, wrapping up the end of the school year). A big part of my problem? I wasn't providing my body the nutrients it needed to stay alert and energized throughout the day. Despite what well-meaning mugs say, one cannot run on coffee alone. Nor can they run on the Tootsie Rolls in the secretary's candy jar. You need to provide yourself with wholesome, nutritious food throughout the day. Pack a healthy lunch and an after school snack (because I KNOW you will be staying after school) to help keep you running at your best.
With the above tip in mind, your body also needs to stay hydrated, and I don't mean with coffee and diet soda. Bring a bottle of water to school to refill during any breaks in the day (I know this can be hard). If you can't keep refilling, bring a few water bottles to keep behind your desk. That way, you will never run out of water, and you'll be keeping yourself hydrated!
I know you know this, but for real guys- go to bed early and get high-quality sleep! I can't sing the praises enough of getting a good night's sleep, and I am able to speak first-hand on what a difference this makes. My body (and mind) always knows when I've had a crappy night's sleep, and it shows in my performance, behavior, and sadly, my face. Don't tell me you can't. You have to. Simple as that.
Do What You Love
Besides teaching, that is. Make time for yourself to indulge in your favorite hobby. Even if it's just 10 minutes a day. Try to carve out some time and schedule it in to your day. To prepare for a good night's sleep, spend 10 minutes before bed reading a novel that's been on your "To-Read" list all summer, crochet during the commercial breaks of your favorite show, or join a local sports league that meets up once a week (my favorite pastime). Whatever you do, make sure you do it for you!
When life gets stressful and it's hard to see the good, take time to actively be grateful. It's easier than it seems. It could be as simple as laughing it off when someone cuts you off on your way home. I like to keep a gratitude journal in my purse, which sounds fancier than it is. It started because I saw a pretty journal at a local bookshop and had to buy it. I couldn't figure out what to use it for, and thought maybe I'd keep it for some spontaneous doodling (another pastime of mine). One Sunday afternoon, during a particularly playful and silly time with my husband, I was feel such warmth and happiness that I didn't want it to end. I decided at that point, that my beautiful journal would be used to document all the beautiful things I have in my life. Thus, the gratitude journal was born. Being grateful doesn't require any special skill. It just requires you to slow down and find the good. You'd be amazed at what this does for your sanity.
Above all, breathe! You got this!
I hope these tips have inspired you to make some changes to help you stay sane during the start of school, and throughout the school year!