Back-to-school season was a stressful time for teachers, even before the pandemic. Now, facing another Covid-19 surge, teachers are faced with the difficult task of stocking classrooms, imparting knowledge, and keeping children healthy and emotionally supported. If you’re a teacher, going back to in-person classes can be daunting, but it’s important that you remember to prioritize your own health and wellness in addition to that of your students. Here are four strategies for managing back-to-school anxieties.
Identify your stressors
Acknowledge situations that amplify your back-to-school stress. Rather than ignoring these feelings, write them down in your journal or even just acknowledge them to yourself verbally. Once you pinpoint what is causing your anxiety, it becomes easier to address it.
Divide and conquer
Once we have identified our stressors, it becomes easier to pinpoint what we can and cannot change. Make a list of tangible actions you can take to address your stressors, like investing in high-quality masks for the year ahead and asking your school district to purchase air filters for each classroom. If there are stressors you do not have control over, identify alternative coping mechanisms that can make managing them more feasible.
Teachers spend so much of their lives giving their time and energy to others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set reasonable boundaries to protect your own emotional and physical wellbeing. Set aside daily personal time just for yourself and if the gossip of the teacher’s lounge is exhausting, opt for lunch outside instead.
Recognize the good
It takes five positive thoughts to counteract one negative one, so remember to focus on the good and be grateful for what is going right. This can look like celebrating small victories, like when a student finally masters a difficult concept or when the school goes a whole week without a Covid-19 infection.
This school year will undoubtedly present new difficulties, both expected and unforeseen, but preparing yourself to meet them by prioritizing your own wellbeing, taking action over what you can control, and setting boundaries will help prepare you to meet any challenge that comes your way.