Teachers in Transition

Teachers in Transition - Episode 62 - How Educators Can Manage Stress During the Coronavirus and Social Unrest

June 04, 2020 Kitty Boitnott
Teachers in Transition
Teachers in Transition - Episode 62 - How Educators Can Manage Stress During the Coronavirus and Social Unrest
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Teachers in Transition
Teachers in Transition - Episode 62 - How Educators Can Manage Stress During the Coronavirus and Social Unrest
Jun 04, 2020
Kitty Boitnott

We are experiencing very difficult times right now. The pandemic has offered more than enough stress for us in recent months, but now we need to add economic uncertainty and social unrest to the mix.

The peaceful protests are justified if the looting and violence are not. But revolution is just about the only thing that manages to change the status quo, and we are witnessing a kind of revolution right now. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis was, perhaps, the final straw.

That said, not everyone is in a position to take to the streets, nor should they. There are other ways to show support and solidarity with a righteous cause.

But all of these events are converging into a type of perfect storm that is causing individuals in our country and across the world an unbearable amount of stress.

The article I refer to in this podcast outlines five ways mindfulness can support educators during a crisis. They include the following:

  1. Tuning into your body through your breathing.
  2. Focusing on good feelings and thinking about all that you have to be grateful for even in these uncertain and volatile times.
  3. Making physical contact with a member of your family who lives with you or cuddling with a pet.
  4. Imagine someone who gives you comfort like a parent, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend.
  5. Connect with nature. Take a walk or a hike. Feel the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair.

Be gentle with yourself and others. These are tenuous times that we are experiencing. Be present to how you feel. And be safe.



The article to which I referred for strategies for managing stress came from "Navigating Uncertain Times:  How Schools Can Cope with Coronavirus"  by Maria Gehl, 4/24/2020. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-04-24-five-ways-mindfulness-can-support-educators-during-a-crisis

The transcript link can be found here:  https://www.temi.com/editor/t/ENYWtglyeZTdN947c7jqgTJ_9Gxd9n4NNwKKAV8o0sG_mu810xoTaXDVla0Dq8DuSn-TqoXAwDPziUphIVMxv9vQ4k0?loadFrom=SharedLink

Show Notes Transcript

We are experiencing very difficult times right now. The pandemic has offered more than enough stress for us in recent months, but now we need to add economic uncertainty and social unrest to the mix.

The peaceful protests are justified if the looting and violence are not. But revolution is just about the only thing that manages to change the status quo, and we are witnessing a kind of revolution right now. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis was, perhaps, the final straw.

That said, not everyone is in a position to take to the streets, nor should they. There are other ways to show support and solidarity with a righteous cause.

But all of these events are converging into a type of perfect storm that is causing individuals in our country and across the world an unbearable amount of stress.

The article I refer to in this podcast outlines five ways mindfulness can support educators during a crisis. They include the following:

  1. Tuning into your body through your breathing.
  2. Focusing on good feelings and thinking about all that you have to be grateful for even in these uncertain and volatile times.
  3. Making physical contact with a member of your family who lives with you or cuddling with a pet.
  4. Imagine someone who gives you comfort like a parent, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend.
  5. Connect with nature. Take a walk or a hike. Feel the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair.

Be gentle with yourself and others. These are tenuous times that we are experiencing. Be present to how you feel. And be safe.



The article to which I referred for strategies for managing stress came from "Navigating Uncertain Times:  How Schools Can Cope with Coronavirus"  by Maria Gehl, 4/24/2020. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-04-24-five-ways-mindfulness-can-support-educators-during-a-crisis

The transcript link can be found here:  https://www.temi.com/editor/t/ENYWtglyeZTdN947c7jqgTJ_9Gxd9n4NNwKKAV8o0sG_mu810xoTaXDVla0Dq8DuSn-TqoXAwDPziUphIVMxv9vQ4k0?loadFrom=SharedLink

Kitty Boitnott:

Are you a teacher who's feeling stressed out and overwhelmed? Do you worry that you're feeling symptoms of burnout or are you sure you've already gotten there? Have you started to dream of doing some other kind of job or perhaps pursuing a whole different career, but you don't know what else you're even qualified to do? You don't know how to start a job search. You just feel stuck. If that sounds like you, I promise you're not alone. My name is Kitty Boitnott. I'm a career transition and job search coach and I specialize in helping burnt out teachers just like you deal not only with the stress and overwhelm of your day-to-day job, but to consider what other careers might be out there waiting for you. Join me for "Teachers in Transition." In some episodes I'll be speaking to stress management techniques and how you can manage your stress on a day to day basis. In other episodes I'll be Hi, this is Kitty Boitnott of "Teachers in Transition," the podcast and the YouTube channel. And this is Episode 62. Um , I'm recording this a week into all of the people, the rioting, the peaceful demonstrations, which are more important than the writing, but , uh , this, this week, the entire country is on edge after what happened with George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial day 2020. And I don't have anything productive or instructive to say about all of that, except that I am really sorry. You know, I speak one week on stress management and another week on career transition. And this is my week to talk about some stress management strategies. And, you know, frankly, I was at a loss at the beginning trying to figure out what in the world to say it was bad enough that we were under the stress and strain of a pandemic that forced us to change fundamentally the way we interact with one another. If you're a teacher, certainly the way you interact with your students, you are whole ways of being good, turned topsy turvy. And we were instructed to stay home and stay away from people because it's not safe. If, if we're all vulnerable to the virus and some populations are more vulnerable than others, then you know, you don't want to get the virus. You don't want to put yourself at risk for picking it up somewhere. And that was all bad enough. And then, then the economic damage started to become real people. Who've lost their jobs. Many of them will never get those jobs back waiters and waitresses who were in making a living of some sort, those, the restaurants, a lot of them will not be able to open up again. I have thought so much about my hair dresser and I desperately needed a haircut, but I'm not ready to go get one yet. Okay . I thought about my nail tech. I would love to go get a massage, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. So, you know, we had those two things already going and then all hell broke loose on Memorial day 2020, because of the apparent privilege of a cop who felt like he had the right to crush a man's neck and strangled him to death with his knee while he casually sat there, one hand in it in his pocket. That to me is the most galling image. The cop just sitting there and you know, no big deal. The guy's crying out for help crying. Kate . I can't breathe crying for his mother crying, knowing he's being filmed with any number of cameras on him, not, not missing a beat, just sitting there long enough to strangle the man to death. I mean , it's, it's just enough to crush your spirit, but we can't afford to be crushed. And so I applaud the people who are out doing the protesting, the peaceful protesting. I want them to be safe in the process. I don't want them to put themselves at risk for catching or spreading the virus, even worse. The sitting at home, it's probably not an option, either doing nothing is not an option. We need to stand up as a society for what's right. And what happened last week. Isn't right. But as an individual, all I can do is try to respond thoughtfully and intelligently instead of angrily and forcefully enough that I add to the problem. You can, you can either be part of the solution or you can be part of the problem. And I'd prefer to think that I'm trying to be part of the solution. So what I want to talk about today, I found an article that I'd like to share. I think it will be useful for today's topic . Since the idea is to try to manage our stress to the best of our ability with all of these things going on in the world. It's hard yesterday in particular, I was just really struggling. And I finally realized it's all this energy that is swirling in, in the country and in the world at large. And you know, every, every major change that's ever been made in our country or any other country has been the result of some sort of revolutionary action. And so that's part of what's happening, but not all of us can be out on the street, even peacefully protesting. So what can you do to help to manage your stress so that you can not become part of the problem? And this particular article is entitled five ways. Mindfulness can support educators during a crisis. Now I guarantee when this article was written, it had to do with the coronavirus was not about what do you tell your kids when they can turn on the TV and see all sorts of protests going on, some peaceful, some not so peaceful. What do you tell your children about whether or not they can trust police officers? You know , when I was a little girl, if , if my dad , my dad would say, you know, if you find yourself lost or, you know , you don't know where you are, you get away. Somehow you get separated from us in a park or at the zoo. You find the police officer go to a police officer, police officers there to help. Um , mr. Rogers has referred to police officers and others as helpers, and to help look for the helpers. So what happens when you decide based on what you see that maybe not all of the police officers are there to help? What do you do then? So whether you're suffering from stress, from the coronavirus or economic uncertainty or the social unrest that's going on right now, there are still ways that you can take charge, manage your individual personal stress. And I want to share with those five ways are this is according to , um, Maria Gale , G E H L. It's a I'll include the link in the notes. It's from an article called five ways. Mindfulness can support educators during a crisis. And it says this, this article is part of the guide, navigating uncertain times how schools can cope with coronavirus. And of course, we're not done with coronavirus. If as schools start to open up in whatever configuration, that's going to be another stressor, whether you decide to go back into the brick and mortar building and try to do the social distancing and do the cleaning and all the other stuff, or whether you continue the distant learning and all the foibles that go along with that, there's still going to be stress due to the coronavirus. It's just being compounded right now by the economic uncertainty and the social unrest. So Maria Gail says that one of the ways that you can manage your stress during a stressful time is to tune into your body, take some deep cleansing breaths. Now I've worked with a breadth expert, breast specialist who does not recommend that you breathe out through your mouth when you're taking deep cleansing breaths. It instead you breathe in through your nose and out through your nose slowly, intentionally that by breathing out through your mouth, you are actually doing harm to the overall oxygen level in your body. So in through your nose, out through your nose, and there are different methods you can use in for four counts and out for four counts or in for six counts and out for six counts, but figure out a way that supports you and tune into where you are holding your stress. I generally hold mine in my neck and shoulders. Other people perhaps manifest their stress and other ways in their bodies. So when you are tuning into your body, just take some deep cleansing breaths in and out and get in touch with your body. And then another thing that she recommends is that you try to focus on the good feelings that you have because not everything is doom and gloom. I mean , even, even in these dark days, you know, a child can say something funny that will make you laugh, or you'll see something that will bring more to your heart or your , your , um, have fun with your pet. There are lots of different ways that we can focus on good feelings, look for whatever silver lining you can find and think about that and focus on whatever it is that you have in your life to be grateful for. Then she says, make physical contact. Now I know these days, that that is a struggle because we're not supposed to make physical contact in my state. They felt they've opened up the patios for some of the restaurants and you can go and long as you socially distance, you can go out to eat. And I met a friend the other day and we sat on the patio and we had a lovely lunch. And as we got ready to part, I was inclined to want to give her a hug. And I had to stop myself and say, you know, ordinarily, I'd give you a hug, but not to be able to do that today. One of these days, we'll be able to give each other little big, long hugs, but you can be in physical touch with other people, even by not actually touching. You can have a social distance lunch, go for a walk with a friend and keep your distance where your mask be careful, but don't isolate yourself just because we're having to do all of this virtual meeting stuff. It doesn't mean that you have to be totally isolated. So try to figure out if it's cuddling with a child or cuddling with your cat or dog cuddle some stuff, get a, get a toy that you can cuddle. This might sound silly. But years ago, when I first lost my first pet, my first dog, I was so incredibly lonely for the first few days. I mean, I didn't realize how much space she had taken. She was just a little dachshund , but she had ruled the house. And when she was gone, the house felt so incredibly empty. And I had convinced myself that I would never have another dog because the heartache of losing her was just practically more than I could bear. And that lasted just a few weeks before I decided the only thing that cheered me up was the idea of another dog. But those first few weeks I started a collection of stuffed bears and I've lined them up in the chair, across from the couch where I would lie to watch TV. And they kept me company. Now that may sound odd and screw ball and all of , all of the rest, but they brought me comfort. He kept me company until I got my next dog. So do whatever it needs, whatever you need to do for you to fill that space. That's, that's empty right now because you can't get with friends and family in the same way that you used to, at least not for now. Another thing that she offers is imagine someone who gives you comfort, think of someone who's maybe deceased. I have lost both of my parents. There isn't a day that doesn't go by that. I don't think of either of them. I wish I could pick up the phone and give them a call, but I have lovely conversations with them in my head and imagining what they would say or how they might react, gives me some level of comfort. So it may not be a parent for you. It may be a teacher or another family member, an aunt or an uncle, a mentor, someone that you consider to be a friend that you , you looked up to imagine that you are in touch with them. And if they're still available, reach out to them. Phone works, email works. You know, I got a text message from a former student. I am an adjunct professor at a local college , um, university. And , uh, I have stayed in touch with this one particular student. That's , it's been going on five years now. And every once in a while, she'll text me. We've had dinner a couple of times, I started out helping to mentor her through the national board process. And then she decided to pass on that, but we've continued to stay friends. And when I got this text from her, she said, I hope you're well, I hope you're staying safe. Once all of this is over, let's get together again, had left to catch up, and I would love to do that as well. So that made me think of another student in that same class that I had dinner with last year after he graduated from the program and we had a lovely time. And so that spurred me to reach out to him. He wrote me back this week. You've made my week. Thank you so much for thinking of me . So reach out to people again, just because we're in this period of social isolation, doesn't mean we have to impose a complete isolation on ourselves. So find someone that you can connect with. And then finally she recommends taking time to get into nature, go for a hike, go for a walk, do something outside. And especially this time of year, I mean, we're getting ready to go into the summer season. You know, ordinarily we'd be planning vacations. I doubt that very many people are planning big vacations right now, but that doesn't mean that you can't still get out and about and walk with your family. It's been interesting. I live in a town home community, and especially at the beginning of the pandemic, I noticed it more than I've noticed it more recently, but little family units, you know, the mom, the dads, two little kids, baby in a stroller, they be in the stroller and a dog walking along on the leash family units coming back together and in a more intimate and fundamental way than they probably have been in a generation because we've gotten so busy. We have forgotten to take time for a walk, to feel the sun on our faces, to feel the wind in our hair. So take some time. Now you don't have to do all of these things. Pick one, pick the one that seems the easiest for you or resonates the most for you. And you don't have to spend a lot of time doing it. Five, 10 minutes a day is all you really need, but you do need to pay attention to the stress level and your body. I've talked about how letting your stress go. Untended leads to bad consequences for the cortisol levels in your body. Other hormonal changes that create weight gain and eating out of boredom or over indulging in alcohol, all kinds of things that we do to self-sooth ourselves. That may not be so good for us. These strategies are , are healthy. They're positive ways to go about managing the stress of a T a triple hit. It's almost like, you know, the, what do they call it? The storm? Um , I forget exactly the term. It's escapes my memory at the moment. Um, but it's the storm of three things happening at once the pandemic, the economy, and now the social unrest, perfect storm. And that's the term. It's a perfect storm for creating stress and uncertainty and restlessness and fear and unhappiness. But what I want to urge you to do is in the midst of all of this, think of ways that you can love yourself and also express your love for others, because that's what we need right now. We need lots more love, lots more understanding, not just tolerance, but understanding, you know, Stephen Covey of seven habits of highly effective people would caution first seek to understand, and then to be understood. He also talked and I always think of the, the, the image of putting trust deposits in a bank with someone that I'm in relationship with so that when I screw up and we all do, I've built up enough trust that I don't completely ruin the relationship when I screw up, because I've built up the benefit of the doubt that I am trustworthy. I am honest. I am truthful. I am dependable, but we all, we all make mistakes. And so when we're trying to build those relationships, we need to remember first seek to understand, and don't forget to make those trust deposits along the way our world is in need of lots of , uh, lots of love and understanding and healing. So whatever you need to do for yourself, do that, and then look out for those that you love. And then try to understand those that you don't know well enough to love yet. We're all in this together. And we need to try to figure out solutions together, take care, stay well, stay safe. I'll talk to you next week. So there you have it, an episode of "Teachers in Transition." I hope you enjoyed the information and I hope you'll plan to come back. Please subscribe to "Teachers in Transition" so that you can be alerted of future episodes. And let me know if you have any questions or topics that you would like me to specifically cover in a future episode. I'm more than happy to help with individual questions as well. So email me at KittyBoitnott@BoitnottCoaching.com. If you are interested in finding a new career or just enjoying your life more, this is the place to start. Hi, I'm Kitty Boitnott and this is "Teachers in Transition."