The way work slammed into the holidays this year explains why I find myself sleeping in late every morning. Phew! That just happened! Now the two weeks ahead seem like all the time in the world to do anything but work. So, what is the best way to spend this time off?
Some things are out of our control around these super-charged holiday periods – traveling, family time, weather, finances, health – but finding some time to shut down and recharge your energy supplies should be a priority before heading back to work in January. Things really start to gather momentum when we return to the classroom with end-of-term reports being the biggest extra-curricular activity for teachers at this time of the year. Not that I’m thinking about work. Well, maybe a little. I am finding it really hard to walk by recycling boxes in the city without glancing in to see if there is some cardboard – kindergarten gold – I can harvest. The holidays have already provided me with an abundance of recyclables for the Creation Station, so it is not as if I need to keep gathering items. I will just be super ready for our first Monday back and I’ve made sure I have some sturdy plans in place for the first week for a smoother re-entry.
Trying to shut off “work-brain” is not easy – in spite of all the distractions over the holidays – and in fact, distractions are often not quite enough if you want to really recharge your energy. Quiet time, time for self-reflection, is what this dark, cold season warrants, sort of like housecleaning for the brain. Whether it is by walking/skiing/snowshoeing in a forest, field or city park, listening to natural sounds, or while listening to your heartbeat as you bob around in a floatation tank filled with warm, salinated water (doesn’t everyone have one of these kicking around the house?), we all need time to ourselves. Hopefully, you will find the opportunity to gather some loose ends within your mind so that you don’t return to work frazzled and unrested.
Our jobs are stressful, no doubt about it, with a high rate of burnout, so that is why there are so many reminders, to new teachers especially, for the need to look after ourselves. Occupational burnout is a real thing and I recall a doctor friend, whose patients included police officers and teachers, who was fond of saying, “You guys are always on stage. If, for some reason, you aren’t able to perform, I will have to take your badge away.” With that in mind, we are lucky to have a break in between gigs, where we can slow down, take some things off our plates, stare into space and breathe deeply to recharge those batteries.