Beat the Winter Teacher Blues
Within the seasonal blahs, there is a type of winter doldrums that afflicts a very specific population – educators.
Lack of sunlight and warmth. Short days and long dark nights. No upcoming breaks. And, a school year that has gone on repeat. This is a recipe for the mid-winter blues and it can start to settle in right about this time of year.
The Mid-Winter Teacher Blues
Yes, seasonal changes* can play havoc on our internal biological clocks. The lessening daylight and subsequent lessened vitamin D can cause a noticeable drain. However, this time of year can leave educators especially weary and the weather is only part of the reason.
*Note: It is always a good idea to consult a doctor if you think you may need help with seasonal affective disorder and mental health challenges.
The Root Cause
If you are a teacher and feeling those annual blahs this time of year, know that you are not alone. The space between winter break and spring break can feel like an eternity. Yes, the cooped up winter feeling, lack of outdoor exercise and activities for students and teacher alike and the general tiredness of entering and leaving school in darkness is absolutely a piece of this puzzle.
However, the general construct of the traditional teacher’s schedule can be a factor in this unfavorable feeling. By this time of year you have repeated the same schedule about 100 times. You have entered school at the same time, taken the same trips to the copy room, mailbox, teacher’s lounge… You have sat at your desk in the exact same position, looking over at the same landscape of desks and chairs. You have gathered up your planning book, grading (that maybe will or wont get done at home), your coffee mug, etc. and left the school at about the same time. Gone home the same way. And repeated for ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
Reflect on that a minute. Let it sink in.This time of year the winter-blues can set in. As a teacher it is easy to allow our days to go on repeat, to let our world shrink down to the size of a classroom - but it doesn't have to be that way. Click To Tweet
What We Can Do
1. Change things up in the classroom
Students will appreciate a change of routine as much as you will. Think back to your own education – the days that were different are the most memorable. So make memories and fight those winter doldrums in one fail swoop.
2. Mix up your personal schedule
Take a different way home, change when you go to the gym, run errands on the other side of town. A change of scenery can alert your senses and give you a different perspective toward your day.
3. Practice Mindfulness
If you don’t already have a mindfulness practice that works for you – try out some different techniques to feel what works best for you. Try doing deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or even bring mindfulness to everyday tasks in the classroom by trying to give each minuscule detail your absolute attention. See how incorporating mindfulness impacts your energy, alertness, and overall sense of well-being. Bonus points for introducing new mindfulness practices to your students as well.
4. Get outside (when you can)
As I write this it is literally so cold that it is a health-risk to go outside, but that’s not usually the case. Winter and cold doesn’t have to deter you from getting some fresh air and sunshine – even if it’s just for a quick walk around the block or stretch. Even just 5 minutes outside is proven to have a positive impact on one’s mood.
5. Plan ahead
As much as living in the moment and enjoying the present is a powerful and positive way to live – sometimes we just need something to look forward to, especially in those long winter months. Look at your calendar and find something in the not too distant future that you can look forward to, maybe a birthday, a small trip, a get-together. Seeing that each day is a day closer to your special event will help you slide through those icy cold days.