How to Maintain Wellness as an Educator

Jessica Shaffer
Jessica Shaffer
5th Grade Teacher; MA in Administration & Leadership, Georgian Court University, NJ
Women standing in front of chalkboard flexing arms

Wellness comes in many forms. As many educators can relate, stress and anxiety can overtake you some days. Whether it is due to deadlines for paperwork, something one of your students is dealing with, or something you are personally dealing with, it can affect your job performance.

Maintaining a Balanced Work-Life

The word that comes to mind first when I think of wellness is balance. Maintaining a solid balance is so important to your well-being. You need to have a balance between your work life and your personal life. During my first few years of teaching, I would stay at work until 7 or 8 p.m. every day. There were just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Much of my weekend was also dedicated to schoolwork, and I became unhappy. I wasn’t taking any time for myself to do the things I loved. When I created a better work-life balance, I became happier and better at my job, even though I was dedicating fewer hours to it.

Learn How to Prioritize

Prioritizing is another skill that will help you maintain wellness. Personally, it took many years to develop an understanding of how to prioritize tasks at work. For a long time, I felt that everything was important and needed to be completed immediately. I would be stressed about completing the most minimal tasks. Through attending graduate school, I quickly realized that I needed to determine how to prioritize differently or I would drown.

My supervisor at the time, and now principal, introduced me to the Rotter-Covey Square. This is a graphical tool that helps you prioritize external and internal concerns, and it also addresses the urgency of those concerns. It helped me tremendously, as I would place tasks in the proper square, and see what I actually needed to accomplish.

Make a “To-Do” List and Ask for Input

My favorite organization tool is a “To-Do List.” I make one every single morning and take about five minutes to list everything I would like to accomplish. There is no particular order to it, but I star anything that is urgent. The feeling of crossing off completed tasks feels exhilarating. This greatly reduces my anxiety as I am able to visualize everything I finish in a day. Any tasks that are not accomplished get moved to the next day. This list makes me more productive on a daily basis.

Talk to your co-workers and embrace collaboration. When you need help solving an issue, ask for input and ask for help. Don’t feel embarrassed of not knowing the answer. Your co-worker could provide you a tool you would never think to use, and it could help you in the future. Who knows, you may share with someone else eventually. Never feel alone in what you do because there are certainly others going through similar issues and being able to discuss can do wonders. Having an outlet to vent about stressful issues can really help you to overcome them.

Whenever you get overwhelmed and feel you can’t function, just take a minute to breathe. Stop what you are doing and refocus. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have an immediate response. My partner teacher and I often say, “Let me think about it” instead of reacting on the spot. Having the proper coping tools is one of the many of the ways you can help your anxiety and stress levels. Increasing job performance isn’t necessarily increasing hours on the job, but increasing your productivity in the hours you are there.

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