If you think the mall is a stressful place during the holiday season, you haven’t been to a second grade classroom in December. Elementary school teachers practically rush to busy shopping malls to kick back and relax. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.
If you’re a classroom teacher struggling with December stress levels, here are seven soothing ways to regain your sanity.
1. Fewer vacation projects
Having once been the queen of classroom vacation projects (at least I figured she was), I speak from experience. It is best for you AND YOUR STUDENTS to select one or two vacation projects and let the rest go. My classroom may have looked super cute, but my students and I were miserable trying to finish it all. Your students will be calmer and your stress level will instantly decrease if you withdraw from projects.
2. Classical music
Always a winner, classical music is one of the best stress relieving tools in the classroom. Other types of music will work as well, but studies have shown that listening to classical music will help people eat less and digest their food more slowly. That’s something to get excited about! So put on a bit of Vivaldi, Handel or Bach and watch the musical magic unfold.
Don’t underestimate the power of doodles! There is something called “flow” that art therapists say happens when we draw or scribble. It means that we fully engage and may even approach a meditative state. For students, drawing can clear their minds of worries or stress and create a sense of calm. For teachers, drawing is an ideal activity during transition times throughout the school day and a sure relief from December stress.
4. Start the day with a happy message
It may sound cheesy, but studies show that putting our mind in a positive frame can help relieve stress and even make us feel more secure. Simple exercises, like asking students to share something they are grateful for, or an act of kindness that they can show someone today, are easy and effective. They help divert our mind from what we perceive as negative or stressful and add calm and clarity to the teaching day.
Dogs and cats are cool right now. Have you noticed how they tend to stretch before getting up? Gentle stretching of the muscles lengthens them and, in the process, relieves stress. Knowing which muscles to stretch is the key. Suite 101 offers some easy stretching exercises that you and your students can practice together. http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/working_mothers/27221
6. Play games
We have all heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine”. There is no better way to relieve stress than to have a good laugh, and one of the best ways to promote laughter is through classroom games. Even better, the use of high-quality classroom games supports learning while the students laugh on the bus. That is a winning combination! You can find great classroom learning games at Teacher Treasures. http://teachertreasures.com
7. Deep breathing
Perhaps the most effective stress relief technique is also the simplest. Deep breathing is an ancient practice that can clear your mind, oxygenate your body, and help you focus. It definitely relieves stress! Practice taking a deep (silent) breath together with your students. Those few seconds have the power to bring amazing calm to your teaching day.
Don’t get carried away to the brink of madness in your classroom this holiday season. Climb Vivaldi, take a deep breath and enjoy a calm December.