Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Importance of Dealing with Overloading and Effective Stress Management Strategies

Regardless of anything and everything that you've ever dealt with - you have a personal level of tolerance. Your level is different to mine and mine is different to yours and so on. Unfortunately, this means that everyone also has a different way of dealing with a level of tolerance and everyone tolerates different things differently.

Does that make sense?

In the last few days I've realised just how invested I was in the campaign, in the vision to Vote Positive, in the overwhelming mission we had in changing our society. I still believe it is possible - however it is not as simple as it once seemed. Heoi ano, there is now three more years to make that vision stronger, and hopefully.. the public will truly see this time.

I have thought about my future as a teacher and the fact that I've been getting stressed by the lack of motivation of some of my senior students. I have also thought about what teacher I want to be and whether I can be one of those teachers who do the same thing day after day. The honest answer is no. I want to be agentic. I am an agent of change and whether I like it or whether other people like it is again regardless because this is who I am. I have been a protestor since a very young age and will fight for the underdog, for those who are mistreated and for those who are not listened to. As a teacher this means that I am student centred. I do what matters for my students and the impact it has on their learning.

I am not the tidiest person. At all. However - when I have processes and strategies in place I am able to organise myself more effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately - I am also a hoarder. I worry that if I chuck out this piece of paper will I need it later on in the future. With the development of computers, floppy disks, memory sticks, CD's and now Drive, I continue to be at paper's mercy because at present that is what I'm forced to leave... a somewhat never ending paper trail.

When I get stressed I tend to have a few triggers - that don't show themselves until much later.
- I get quieter. I choose rather to bottle up the anger and frustration rather than to broadcast it to the world. My students get nervous because they see how quiet I am. Sometimes this is a good thing because eventually someone makes me laugh and I calm down.
- my desk becomes cluttered with paper.
- i have a growing list of things to do that never seems to end
- My car becomes a mess with pieces of clothing chucked everywhere - usually jackets and shoes.
- my dishes pile up.
- I don't cook properly.
- I don't make myself lunch.
- I sleep in too long.
- I snap at the smallest things.
- I say yes to more things so my plate gets even fuller.
- I sleep at weird hours (though nana naps are awesome)
- my washing pile piles up (blaming the weather but it's my laziness instead...)
- my planbook gets messy
- I don't write often in my blog and I misplace my purple journal.
- I stay away from Twitter where my support network is...
- I keep quiet at school so no-one knows I'm having issues
- I'd rather stay in my class to try to get on top of things rather than go to the staffroom and watch people eat their food because I forgot to make mine haha


To solve this - I have a few strategies that normally always work:
- laughter. The key to my soul. Seriously. My students find this out early on and as a result make use of it often - to stop the 'blinding and burning eyes' as they call my stares, or the frustration on my face... and to win an argument... So my students place well timed comments and sometimes out of the blue comments... like today... where is Morrinsville? Is that in France? ...
- telling random stories about myself and my life. Tends to buy students some relax time too.
- cleaning my desk.
- highlighting my different classes in my plan book. and then filling it in.
- tidying up the ever growing piles of paper.
- driving.
- baking.
- writing.
- playing with Mia (though this can actually make me more frustrated sometimes).
- cooking and experimenting with food
- blogging and singing
- eating chocolate
- talking about my issues
- having my besties mock me. Seriously. Nine times out of ten this works.
- having a massive cry.

The problem is because I am so quiet when I get stressed out, no-one actually knows I am stressed. I keep off of Twitter and I don't eat or sleep properly - I get increasingly irritable and then eventually - I snap. And this usually involves a lot... and I mean a lot of crying to release all the tension and the anger and the frustration. Have only cried at school 4 times in my life. Twice as a teacher. I was close to it again the other day with my year 13 students - but I somehow held it together. That was a horrible Monday. Stupid democratic process.

As a result of the triggers - it builds and builds to a point where I can't even see through the fog - to put it the way my mentor and buddy teacher told me yesterday. Talking with her was cathartic too. When I finally can release it all - my brain clears, logic returns and I am back to being me.

This doesn't happen often. Because usually I am able to blog or write it out and release that pent up energy. But when it does - it's because I've not dealt with the issues at hand.

The issues this time:
- Students not motivated.
- Students bored (because I'd gotten so weighed down I reverted to boring teacher and couldn't see that they needed something different and then have the flexibility to go back to the previous assessment)
-Students want credits and I needed to just add them up to Kamar because they had been moderated.
- Many things to do.
- The campaign.
- Not feeling good enough... this is a recurring one though...
- Not feeling like I was getting acknowledged for all of the good things I already was doing... and then more being added...
- Feeling at a loss to do anything effectively
- Needing time to flesh out a plan effectively

And this... is why it is important to be reflective... so that you are able to look up and see that it is actually a beautiful day despite the stink feels in your head and heart.

Smile. Breathe. Another day is just beginning somewhere in the world and you are a small part of a big beautiful journey.

And this - for mere interest: