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Do you find yourself longing to curl up on the beanbag chair next to your quiet child in the reading area? Or maybe you want to get away from it all and squeeze into the cozy cube corner with your autistic child? You just might have the summertime blues! Whether you get your summers off or you’re jealous of those who do, every early childhood teacher needs a little break from the ABCs and a little time for R & R each day of the year. Here are six practical ways to stay emotionally healthy every day.
- Be in the Word each day. God’s Word is our source of strength, encouragement, and forgiveness. When we are parched, God’s Word refreshes us. God’s Word is life. Use any myriad of resources, such as specifically teacher devotionals, any daily devotional book, read-through-the-Bible guides, or Bible studies.
- Give yourself uninterrupted time to pray each day. It’s a great way to start your day and end your day, especially as you journal about how God is at work. Perhaps some soothing, reflective music is a good way for you to unwind. Or consider praying using the lyrics of hymns that resonate with your circumstances. And, of course, pray throughout the day, as you work, but . . . if you can give yourself even two minutes during the workday on a break to compose yourself and connect with your heavenly Father without doing anything else, you’ll feel more at ease and at peace. God is our provider and sustainer, and there is power in the name of our Savior Jesus. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us and strengthens our faith.
- On a related note, be aware of situations that trigger an emotional response from you. Is there a child or two in your room who just rub you the wrong way? Maybe their personality just clashes with yours? Take a break as you can, let a co-worker intervene when you are at your limit, and avoid unnecessary confrontations as much as possible. Is there a workplace situation that regularly ruffles your feathers? Perhaps it would be better to discuss it than to let it stew until you reach your boiling point. Praying in the midst of these trying times will help “let the words of [your] mouth and the meditation of [your] heart be acceptable in [God’s] sight” (Psalm 19:14). Take comfort that He is your Rock and your Redeemer.
- Make time each day before or after work for physical activity. Not only is it mentally a break, as you can pray and listen to encouraging music, but it is physically so valuable. Not only will you be keeping yourself healthy, but the chemicals your body releases during exercise will undoubtedly boost your mood.
- Try something new or challenge yourself. Keep teaching fresh by keeping up with some convenient professional development such as following your favorite educators or groups on Twitter or on their blogs to hear innovative ideas. And don’t forget to connect with other early childhood professionals to vent, discuss, and collaborate.
- Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of the day or end of the week. Instead of reacting emotionally to your day (like downing a bag of chocolates!), be proactive and plan ahead for a treat, such as a date night with your spouse or significant other, going out to eat and bringing home leftovers (two opportunities to forget about cooking and doing dishes!), or even simply using paper plates so you don’t have as many dishes to do at the end of the day. Especially when you know you have a busy day or week ahead, plan these breaks or pick-me-ups ahead of time. Those little rays of light at the end of the tunnel really can help to keep you going.
Early childhood teachers are in a profession where we give, give, give all the time. But in order to avoid burnout (and just to avoid short-tempered teachers), we need to get refueled and refreshed daily through our power source: Christ. His light and life engulf our emotionally and physically weary bodies and bring us warmth and energy that keep us going. He welcomes us: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Christ comes to us and gives us Himself. Now that’s true rest and recuperation!
Photo via Visualhunt.com
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