Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Antidote to Burnout

The topic of teacher burn-out and the importance of self-care got me thinking about an article published by Lisa Dabbs in Edutopia titled 20 Tidbits for New Teachers.  The article contains some good advice for new and veteran teachers.  Amongst the tips is build relationships; collaborate, ask for help, be willing to grow, get a mentor and, of course, make time for r&r.  Dabbs (2011) is clear that “If you don't take time for rest and relaxation you will crash and burn.”  In her article 5 Tips for Avoiding Teacher Burnout Hertz (2014) also identifies the importance of self-care in preventimng teacher burnout and encourages teachers to maintain their “other” life outside of school by exercising and socializing.

I will be the first to admot that pursuing my Masters degree while working full-time has meant that self-care has not been a priority.  I succumbed to my addiction to Coca Cola and have been more sedentary than is healthy.  Fortunately my personal trainer (otherwise known as my golden retriever Tucker) gets me out for a two kilometer walk most mornings before work.  I also have a colleague at a different school that I talk to regularly which both provides an opportunity to socialize and discuss work-related challenges.  This is a start, but it’s not enough.  My present challenge is, where do I find the time and energy?  I am already stretched with work, studying, professional learning groups and other professional development initiatives.

So what can I do that I can fit into my packed schedule?  Journaling at the end of the day before bedding down for the night is a possibility.  I also love movies.  I am an escapist.  It has been a long time since I have been to the theatre.  There are a few movies I would like to see.  Taking the initiative to invite someone to go with me to see a movie and leave the real world behind for a few hours would be welcome and something I could pursue.  

Having completed two marathons I am a big believer in an active body supporting an active mind.  Exercise, and running in particular, has taken a back seat as of late.  My dog is aging and his muscles no longer respond to running and I would feel guilty leaving him behind while I run by myself so we now take shorter walks.  Looking at the list of potential activities posted in the OLTD 509 Quest I think it is time to identify other means of being active.  I have a stationary bike that I could use before settling down on the couch to study after work and I am sure the Internet is abundant in quick exercise videos.  It is time to make activity a priority again. According to Robinson et al (2017) people who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives.  That is reason enough for me to make it a priority again.

The activity that I do that promotes my emotional well-being the most is not on the list.  Spending time with my pets has always been what grounds me.  Nothing soothes away the stress of a difficult day like cuddling with a cat or petting a dog.  Best of all, they are never too busy to listen. I have been known to say that fur is the fix.

We have all heard the saying, “If Mom ain’t haopy, nobody’s happy.”  I suggest that this is true of anyone in the position of a caregiver.  It is not selfish to make yourself a priority every once in a while.  It’s necessary.

So, in the interest of being a better teacher I am going to continue to begin my day with a morning walk but I will investigate ways I can incorporate more activity and socializing nto my tight schedule.  Maybe that new J.K. Rowling movie is still playing.  Popcorn, anyone?


Dabbs, Lisa. (2017). Edutopia. Retrieved 8 January 2017, from

Dabbs, L. (2011). 20 Tidbits for New Teachers. Edutopia. Retrieved 8 January 2017, from

Hertz, M. (2014). 5 Tips for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia. Retrieved 8 January 2017, from

Robinson, Lawrence  and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A.(2017) The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: The Exercise Prescription for Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and More). Retrieved 9 January 2017, from

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