This time of year, the pace picks up at school. There are times my shoulders are neck feel so tight that if you put you hand on them, they'd crack like thin ice on the top of a frozen lake. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all you have to do. Can you come to grips with the fact that you are not a robot? You can't schedule every single moment and drive yourself until you get it done. We're all tired sometimes.
How to Relax Your Mind
This one simple practice helps me get it back together when I feel like I'm about to crack into a thousand tiny shards of who I used to be.
My basketball coach in middle school taught us this relaxation technique and I've used it through my whole life (often before a test). I was sitting here thankful that my coach had taught me this. It has been very useful in my life, particularly in moments when I needed a level head and a calm mind.
[tweetthis]All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. Blaise Pascal[/tweetthis]
Step 1: Listen to Nature
I like to put on my Naturespace app and listen to a river flow. You can listen to any type of nature sound you wish. When you close your eyes, your mind doesn't really know that you”re physically not at that place, so pick a relaxing place. I have a thing for mountain rivers but I know some people who savor beach sounds.
Step 2: Breathe Deeply and Focus on Your Breath
So, as I listen to the sounds, I breathe in through my nose very deeply and out through my mouth. I slowly breathe in and out just focusing on the place where my breath goes in and the feeling of the air going out. My goal is to focus on my breath until I get to 20 (30 if I have time.)
I don't feel much in this between 0 and 10 but after 10, if I can keep bringing my stressed thoughts back to breathing, I'll start relaxing. Sometimes I'll pray as I breathe, but usually I just focus on the in and the out.
Step 3: Relax Your Body as You Breathe
As I feel myself relax, I'll drop my shoulders (and yes, they usually crack quite a bit). When I'm done, I feel more focused and refreshed and able to make it through the day.
Learning How to Relax Your Mind Will Help You Focus
While I'm certainly no meditation or mindfulness coach, this is just my simple way of relaxing that helps me remember that I'm not just a human doing but I'm a human being.
As teachers we must be careful. We are so busy serving others that we can easily neglect ourselves. When will the cook take time to eat? We don't want to be the starving baker, we need to take small moments to nourish our own well-being so that we can thrive amidst the chaos that is our classroom.
Teach Students How to Relax Their Minds Too
By the way, have you thought of teaching relaxation techniques to your students?
- Applying Mindfulness to Mundane Classroom Tasks
- Energy and Calm: Brain Breaks and Focused-Attention Practices
- the 5 Finger Relaxation Technique
- Stress Reduction Activities for Students [PDF with many exercises]
Sometimes, we just have to learn to relax.
Tips for minimizing teacher stress
- Discover 10 stress-busting secrets for healthy teachers. What simple routines will help you handle the stress?
- Simple advice for coping with stress at work.
- Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)