Teaching Profession Opinion

Create Mindful Rituals to Alleviate Stress

By Starr Sackstein — August 08, 2017 2 min read
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The new school year hasn’t begun yet, but my summer wasn’t typical this year. With a lot of change happening at once with additional responsibilities, I’ve noticed how easy it is to lose track of time and in doing so, forget to take care of myself.

So much of our time as educators (and parents) is spent taking care of others that it is too easy to put ourselves lowest on the list.

Since I’ve returned to graduate school, am preparing for a new job, in a new place again and have a child who will be starting middle school in the fall, you could say my plate has been full.

Eager to do it all (as I’m prone to do), I’ve noticed that I’ve become increasingly more tired and my body has been reacting poorly to the changes.

To combat the negative impact, I’ve been working hard to create meaningful rituals—as suggested by my colleague Dan Tricarico in his book The Zen Teacher. His book is my go to when it comes to trying to strike some balance and put more “me” time back on the schedule.

One of the rituals I’ve implemented this summer is morning walks. When I go out to grab my coffee at Starbucks, I stretch that time out into a 30 to 60 minute walk where I can move and be mindful, meditating on what I can do to stay focused and clear.

These walks have become instrumental in allowing me to clear my head, get some good exercise (work up a sweat) and practice breathing to stay present in the moment. With so much going on, it has been hard to really find peace. Having this time to walk by myself has brought some of that quiet back. Going early in the morning ensures lower traffic noise and less people around.

Something I enjoy doing on these walks is smiling at people and saying good morning. It probably sounds silly but it always surprises me how surprised my community members are by my friendliness. Makes me feel like I want to do it even more.

In addition to my morning walks, I take breaks in between the varied activities I need to complete. If I’m working on reading chapters for one of my classes, once I finish one, I intentionally stop. Shut the computer and go for another walk or watch an episode of something mindless on Netflix or play some games on my phone. It’s also a good time to grab a snack.

Building in these rituals has made the increase of responsibilities more bearable and has helped de-escalate a lot of the stress before it has had a chance to build.

Staying mindful about taking care of ourselves is essential in the profession we are in. We are no good to anyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves.

So try to:

  • read a book for fun
  • take a walk at the park or the beach
  • go for a run or bike ride
  • catch up on your favorite shows
  • eat a healthy snack or meal
  • go to the gym
  • play your favorite video game
  • go to a Pokemon legendaries raid and meet new people
  • join a Twitter chat
  • hang out with friends (and don’t talk about work)
  • do something for yourself (and don’t feel guilty about it)
  • meditate (in a way that works for you)
  • try something new that you’ve always wanted to do
  • get to bed at a reasonable hour
  • try to wake up without an alarm on the weekend

There are plenty of times throughout the school year when the stress can become unbearable. If we create rituals that help with routines and stress, the better able we will be to cope with the challenges as they arise. After all, when we are in a good place, we are much better equipped to deal with the day to day stresses.

What is one of your rituals that helps with managing your stress levels? Please share.

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