Teachers already do so much. Their care for students often leads them to working extra hours grading, creating lesson plans, and double checking their every step.
But with the added stress of the global pandemic, teachers are doing even more. Now, they have to either teach their students virtually or worry about added physical safety measures, thus contributing to the opportunity for burnout.
How do you know if you’re completely burned out or just in a normal state of teacher exhaustion? And how do you prevent teacher burnout from happening?
Read on for some helpful signs of burnout and tips and tricks to keep your stamina going all school year long.
Signs of Teacher Burnout
If you feel like you might have teacher burnout, you’ve likely experienced some of the following signs or symptoms. Of course, if you feel like you are ill, see a doctor. However, what you really need when you’re feeling this way is rest.
When working with a new system and trying to keep parents, students, and administrators happy, some irritability is to be expected. However, if you notice that you become frequently irritated by small events or mishaps or are quicker to anger than usual, you might have teacher burnout.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, especially over many weeks or months, you might be experiencing burnout. Though you might assume exhaustion leads to deeper sleep, when your brain is overactive and unable to shut off, sleeping can become nearly impossible.
Another sign of teacher burnout is a change in appetite. If you find that you are so tired you are craving more salty and fatty foods, you might need rest instead. If you have found that you are not eating much or have lost your appetite, that could also mean you are burned out.
Everyone needs some alone time. But if you are frequently feeling that you don’t want to be around others, especially if you’re normally very social, this could be another sign of burnout. You could be spending plenty of time alone but not actually spending any of that time resting. So, you have no desire to be around others, but your alone time is not helping to address your burnout.
Feeling tired is normal as an educator and especially during these difficult times. However, if you find that you are facing more than normal fatigue, that could be a sign of burnout. If you have trouble getting out of bed every morning and feel sluggish throughout the day, you might consider taking steps to relieve your burnout.
Another potential sign of teacher burnout is the feeling of not thinking clearly, or brain fog. If you find that your logic or ability to think through problems has become cloudy, and you just can’t think straight, you might be experiencing burnout.
Again, if you think you might be sick, make sure to stay home from teaching and/or see a doctor. However, physical discomfort like dizziness, headaches, or nausea could also be a sign of burnout. Try to get some rest and see if that helps.
Tips for Preventing Teacher Burnout
If you do feel that you are burned out, the best course of action is to get some much needed rest as soon as you can. Take a little time off or let your administrator know.
However, the best way to deal with burnout is to avoid it altogether. Here are some tips and tricks for preventing burnout before it takes over your life.
Prioritize Healthy Habits
Though educators can often devote all their time to their students and their work, it’s important to also prioritize healthy habits like eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep.
This can feel impossible at times, but even if you can find ten minutes in a day to exercise and make sure you get seven hours or so of sleep, you will help prevent burnout. Prepare your meals and make sure you’re eating healthy foods throughout the day to keep you fueled.
Prepare as Much as Possible
Educators know that preparation is important. Though sometimes last minute changes get the best of your plans, you will help avoid burnout to prepare for each day as thoroughly as possible.
Don’t just prepare your lesson plans but also prepare yourself for what you will eat throughout the day, when you will take rests, and how you will manage your time in relation to your time communicating with students and parents.
Find Moments for Self-Care
Even if you can’t take an hour a day to meditate, take a warm bath, or practice yoga, you can certainly find crucial moments throughout your day for self-care.
Maybe take five minutes each morning or before bed to meditate. Set reminders on your phone to take deep breaths between classes. However you can practice self-care, even the smallest moments will go a long way in preventing burnout. Take a walk, listen to a podcast, or tune into your favorite morning talk show.
Take Screen Breaks
Especially if you’re teaching remotely, make sure you take time throughout your day to live life without staring at a screen. Instead of relaxing in front of the TV, go for a walk. Instead of scrolling through social media, read a book or listen to music.
Take time on weekends to take hikes or enjoy the outdoors. You will inevitably prevent burnout by connecting with who you are without any device.
Lean on Support Systems
Whether you get the most support from your family, friends, or colleagues--or maybe all three--make sure to lean on your support systems when you need them.
Let your administration know if you need a break. Take your sick and personal days when you need them. If you can get a sub, do it. Ask fellow teachers for help and advice. You were never meant to do this all alone.
Focus on Gratitude
Finally, whenever you can, focus on the feeling of gratitude. Instead of worrying about what you haven’t done or your shortcomings, make a list of what you have accomplished and what makes you such a great teacher.
By focusing on these feelings of gratitude, you will inevitably improve your mood. This will also help you to see the positive aspects of your day, rather than the negative, and remind you what you love about your job and your students to keep you motivated.