When one stressful day turns into another and then another, this can lead one to experience "burnout." In her Forbes article, "The Ins and Outs of Workplace Burnout," Alice G. Walton says burnout is becoming a major problem in the American workplace.
Walton identifies three types of burnout. "Frenetic" burnout occurs when people overload themselves with work. These people, who are often extremely ambitious and hardworking, drive themselves to the point of being workaholics; but, eventually, they flame out from exhaustion.
Then there is the "underchallenged" burnout, who feels disengaged, bored, and stifled. This employee feels a little cynical, even if he is not normally a negative person, because he doesn't have room to grow and develop new skills.
The employee suffering from the third type of burnout feels "worn out." This employee has probably been in the same position for several years and now feels that his work is not being adequately acknowledged, or that he has a lack of control over his work.
Since burnout can be caused by too little stimulation as well as too much stimulation, how can anyone strike the right balance? One thing Richard Wexler, past president of the New York State Psychological Association, suggests in the Forbes article is that employees make time for tending to their mental health.
It's important to have an identity outside of your professional life. "Professionally, placing one's entire concept of Self or identity in one's work life can be dangerous," says Wexler. "The loss of a job for a person who has not balanced [his] concept of Self with self-care needs, cultivating healthy one-on-one relationships, and other group identifications can lead to serious mental and physical health issues."
As educators, leaving work at the office is virtually impossible, but to be healthy, it is important to find time and energy to tend to your own mental health. So, how do educators like you de-stress?
We asked some educators to share their advice for managing stress:
- Rose F. says she likes to take 10 slow, deep breaths, stretch, and focus on doing one thing at a time. And it's OK to say "no" when you have to. "Slow down," says Rose, and "refuse to take the monkeys that don't belong to you."
- When he needs a break, Andrew T. likes to get away from his "home" department and check out what other teachers in the building are doing with their students—especially in the theatre and music departments, which interest him personally.
- Sarah Z. says walking, even for 15 minutes on her lunch break, can lighten her mood.
- Another teacher says that her school offers Stress Relief Days each year, during which staff can participate in a "luau," play games, and chow down on comfort food while laughing along with a comedian and learning relaxation techniques from a creativity expert.
- Andrea G. recommends staying creative and active by doing yoga, taking a hike, talking to a friend, writing, painting, making lists and checking things off (sometimes making lists of things you've already accomplished), planning a trip, looking at photos of past trips, dancing, listening to music…and whatever else will bring a smile to your face.
Or, you can do what Alan C. does, and ask yourself, "Is this going to be important this time next year?"
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