Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Working On My Fitness Part I: Staying Sane

Note: This was originally intended to be one post discussing what I've been doing to manage both mental and physical health this summer. As it turns out, I'm a little longwinded so I've broken it up into two seperate posts. This one covers the mental health and Part 2 will discuss the physical. 

Remember way back in February, when I was trying to get motivated to exercise again? I had set a goal of doing yoga at least once a week and that didn't happen. I made it all the way to the end of the school year in no better shape than when I'd started. Combined with all of the emotional and physical stresses of the year, I was in considerably worse shape all around by June.

One of the things I've been doing to get back on track is something I've already mentioned: Circle + Bloom. This is a guided meditation that has been really helpful in managing stress, and getting my mind and body on the same page. I haven't really been doing it lately, just haven't felt the need, but I'm sure that once school starts again, I'll get back into it. My cycles have been more regular than ever since I started C+B but there's really no way to know that it's responsible, obviously. It has helped me stay relaxed and at the end of the day, that's the most important thing as far as my own sanity goes.

Aside from TTC, work had me really burned out this year. When you get classes that are well-behaved and everything runs smoothly, teaching is a great job. More often than not, it doesn't turn out that way. I had a couple of really challenging classes this year (grade 9s that were below grade level, behaviour issues all around, a split class that was basically two different courses in one period) and as a school community, we were hit hard by various issues (a threat right before Christmas break, a few suicides) that had to be managed very carefully. By the end of the school year, I didn't want anything to do with it anymore. Naturally, that meant it was a good time to dig myself deeper.

Right after the school year was over, I began taking an online course. It was an Additional Qualification course in special ed. It was more intense than I'd expected it to be and at first, I thought I'd lost my mind going straight into that when all I wanted to do was stop thinking about work! In the end, though, it turned out to be exactly what I needed. The discussions with other teachers put some of my own issues into perspective, made me feel better about some of what I was doing in the classroom (it can feel very isolating at times so it's always nice to hear that others have had the same issues), and gave me strategies to try in the future. I've also been participating in the Facebook group for teachers in my region, which has had a similar effect. Spending this time reflecting on work and building up resources has actually been a very good thing. I can't say I'm going back to school completely rejuvinated and inspired, but I'm certainly going back feeling a lot more prepared and capable than I felt in June.

One positive aspect of work and my course was that they served as an effective distraction from TTC troubles. Now that both are over, I'm trying to make an effort to fill my time with other things so that I don't end up on the couch, just ruminating. Deep cleaning parts of the house and organizing all of my teaching materials should take me through the rest of the break. I also gave in and created a Pinterest account yesterday, which has been filling my head with all kinds of inspiring ideas I'll probably never get around to.

So, for now, it's all about knocking some projects off the To Do list, getting inspired for future projects, and using C+B as needed to help keep the anxiety and stress levels in check. Blogging and having a good support system offline has been helpful. I still lurk on The Bump occasionally but there are times when I just need to avoid it, and that's ok. Once the new school year begins, there will probably be some more juggling until I find another new balance but so far, so good.

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