By now, you are probably fully immersed in the school year.  And when the novelty of the new year has worn off and you realize you’re in the trenches again, it’s easy to feel just a wee bit of the old anxiety creeping up.Because let’s face it, after a handful of weeks the familiar stressors start to rear their ugly heads and our vision gets a little blurrier and our breathing grows more shallow.

Perhaps you’re wondering how you’re going to cover all of the material by the end of the semester.

Perhaps you’re worried about the low level of skills among your students in fourth period.

Perhaps grades have come out and you’re wondering how you are going to support the handful of students who aren’t passing and how you can raise their level of success.

Perhaps the students have grown more comfortable and there is more policing of behaviors.

Perhaps the administration dropped the ball on supporting you with a parent.

Perhaps you feel buried by the stack of papers continues to grow and grow and grow.

Perhaps it’s as simple as being unable to find any time for you to do the things you like to do—like working in the garden, hanging out on the deck during a sunset, or watching the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

The bad news is that all of these concerns weigh heavy on all of us as teachers.

But the good news is that there are many ways to combat these stressors and create peace and equanimity both in the classroom and your life.

For now, however, I will offer the following five suggestions for recapturing your sense of peace as the school year amps up and the stress compounds:


  1. Create some self-care habits.  Make Friday night all about reading for pleasure with good music or dinner with friends or date night with your spouse. Make Saturday morning your mani-pedi time at the local salon. Make Sunday night church and family dinner time. But don’t hope that it will happen serendipitously, PLAN IT. Put it on the calendar. And honor your own needs.
  2. Find time for stillness and silence.  Each day we can find moments where we can pull away from the hustle and bustle and find quiet moments of stillness and silence where we can decompress and reclaim a sense of serenity. Whether it’s meditating, praying, or simply lowering our rhythms, in our 24/7 always “on” world, it becomes so easy to simply ignore or dismiss the opportunities for stillness and silence. But look for them. Value them. Use them. You won’t be sorry.
  3. Take something off your list.  Review your calendar and make a mindful choice to remove something that no longer serves you.  We are creatures of habit and we follow the calendar as if someone else created it. But guess what?  WE are the ones who created it. So we can UNcreate it as well. Yeah, I went there.
  4.  Talk about it.  Find a trusted confidant and share your experience. Acknowledge the stressors and work through them. I’m not talking about a place to simply complain, vent, or rant (although two of those have their places), but rather develop a kind of Zen Mastermind group where you can brainstorm solutions together while benefiting from fellowship with another person. I recently asked our school counselor (one of my favorite people on campus) if I could come by and get some help untangling some stuff and he said “Yes, of course,” and our meeting really helped me. Even knowing that his door was open to me really put me at ease. So if you have someone (or many someones) like that, try to spend more time with them as the anxiety rises and see if that helps.
  5. Serve/give outside the classroom.  Whenever I feel that I have no control over the stressful things in my life, I find that one of the strategies that makes me feel better is to serve outside myself and outside my classroom. I donate time or money at church, I volunteer for outside activities, I proofread a friend’s paper, or I help or tutor a friend’s child with their homework for free.  Knowing that you’re helping others can bring a great sense of fulfillment and gratitude and puts everything else in perspective and makes all of the other stuff you’re sweating seem not so important after all.

Bonus strategies: Review this blog and you will also find all kinds of other strategies, like these posts on sitting still, meditating better, and how to have an awesome date with yourself.

When the school year gets in full swing, it’s sometimes difficult to step back and be mindful about the ways in which we cope.

Finding that perspective can be a choice, but only you can stop The Merry-Go-Round.

I hope these handful of strategies give you some breathing room and allow you to see what’s important and what is “just stuff.”

So you can ignore “the stuff” and focus on what matters. TZT


If you enjoy the concepts I talk about in this blog, be sure and check out:

The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom


The Self-Care Starter Kit (FREE)


Self-Care 101: Finding Time, Creating Space, and Embracing Renewal