You’ve probably used brain breaks to help students get through tough school days. But what about you? Teachers get stressed out from those long testing days too, especially during the end of the school year. Here are a few tips to help you survive through to the last day of school.
What’s a Brain Break?
If you haven’t heard this catchy term, a brain break is a quick refreshing activity to decrease tension from testing, long days, or stressful times. Brain breaks are a fun technique to energize, activate, and refocus the mind. They’re kind of like brain candy to decrease frustration levels or reinvigorate students that may have become drained or unmotivated after long periods of work.
Teachers use brain break activities to help refocus and re-energize their students. They work tirelessly to ensure that their class does not become overwhelmed or disengaged. The ironic part is that they do all of this while draining themselves. The truth is that sometimes teachers need a mental break too, especially as we creep closer to the end of the school year.
We know about GoNoodle for kids. We should invent GoDoodle for adults. Or how about GoStrudal! Who wouldn’t appreciate having a yummy strudal delivered to their classroom? Let’s make this a thing.
Many teachers battle teacher burnout and struggle to keep their head up each day in the classroom. Teachers need brain breaks, but what can they do?
When You’re Spread Too Thin… Stretch Out.
Teaching can be both emotionally and physically challenging. If you’re like me, you’ll have days when you come home and just want to cry. There are days you’ll feel like you’ve run a marathon. There will be days that you wonder if you can keep it up.
Those days will come but they will also pass. You’ll have tough days along with the great ones, and it’s all a part of teaching. No one ever told me that teaching would be such a roller coaster! I think I was absent during that college lecture.
To help with the more challenging times, try out a yoga class or a video at home to stretch out those tired muscles and redirect your mind. Yoga can help relieve stress while providing low impact exercise.
Yoga can help tone and strengthen your muscles, leading to a healthier body and a more relaxed and confident self. It can inspire balance, calmness, and self- awareness, all of which would benefit any teacher… or anyone really.
Do Some Self- Reflection.
If relaxation sounds good, but exercise isn’t your thing, try meditation. As teachers, we’re used to bustling around all day; planning, teaching, and taking responsibility for all sorts of occasions that arise throughout the day. Teachers are always on the go, always on- task. Sometimes we don’t know how to just pause.
Great teachers know that self- reflection is an important part of effective teaching. But how many actually reflect on their personal lives and their own mental state of mind? Meditation encourages peace and self- awareness while working on mindfulness, positivity, clarity, and concentration.
There are many blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos about meditation. Some of them are even dedicated specifically to teachers. Meditation could be a great way to connect with yourself by disconnecting from everything else. If nothing else, it can help you chill out after a crazy day.
Phone a Friend.
Know someone that always makes you laugh? When’s the last time you spoke to them? Is there someone you’ve lost touch with that you’d like to reconnect with? Give them a call.
Just five minutes on the phone with a loved one can lift your mood while brightening their day. Try talking about fun times and good memories to get your mind off your problems and catch up with an old friend. It could be just what you need to refresh your mind and you’ll probably cheer them up too!
Even if it means grading papers on the playground or bringing your laptop to the school courtyard, try to get outside if you can. A little fresh air can make a world of a difference, and it helps to physically remove yourself from the environment in which you’ve been feeling stressed and drained.
Walk It Off.
While you’re outside, why not take a walk to really clear your mind. Run if you’re feeling ambitious. Take notice of shape of the clouds, the swaying leaves in the trees, and the chirping of the birds. Focusing on nature helps us to remember that our problems are small in the grand scheme of things.
Bonus points if you get the song reference.
Anyway, here’s my confession. Sometimes I close the blinds and have a dance party with my kids. Let’s just keep this between us, okay? But the truth is that they love it and it gets my blood pumping. I could give you a long list of why I don’t exercise enough, but the real reason is that I just don’t want to.
But I love dancing! I may look like a bouncing fool but I have fun doing it. It’s such a great way to get moving and laughing. I’m not brave enough to join a dance class at the gym, so it’s just something we do at home for now. I’ve had spontaneous dance parties in my classroom too. I highly recommend it! Just make sure to close those blinds first.
Social Media in Moderation.
Social media can serve as brain candy, as long as you don’t get sucked in for too long or take it too seriously. Know that behind those perfect Instagram photos is probably someone who is stressed out and wearing sweatpants behind the camera.
Social media can be fun but set some limits for yourself. Set a timer for ten minutes to browse on social media, then log off. And if social media causes you stress of any kind, stay away from it for a while.
Freebies Just for Fun.
And just for fun, here are some freebies from my TPT shop that I know you’ll love.
Click here to get exclusive freebies in my newsletter. You’ll love all the goodies!
Hopefully they’ll spark some joy in your classroom or save you a little time. Enjoy!
So whether you’re reading this toward the end of the school year, or you’ve only just begun, chances are that you’ll need a brain break soon. Remember these tips and if you have any more, comment at the bottom, or let me know on my Facebook or Instagram pages. I’d love to connect with you!
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Keep teaching. Keep learning.
~Christy D. from Exceptional Thinkers