Stress is a part of being human. Fact. Everyone goes through stressful situations at some point in their lives. Whether it's health related, family, friends, relationships, work, or even just long lines at the grocery store (UGH), it's there. Being able to handle stress in a healthy way is, I believe, a HUGE life skill that is pretty essential.
I'm trying to pass this on to my students in some way, shape or form. We are reading Mockingjay in class now. Actually, we should be finishing it tomorrow :( Anyhow, in this book the beautiful Finnick Odair is going through a rough time, to put it simply. During this time he resorts to something he learned in his District as a child, which was how to tie knots. He sits with a rope and ties different knots for hours on end to focus his energy on something other than what was going on in the world around him. I cut up rope for the kids and we looked up different knot tutorials and tried to figure out whether this would be a good stress reliever or not, and then talked about some healthy ways for us to let out our aggression when we are upset.
Following that, last week a representative of our feeder high school came to talk to the kids about transitioning to ninth grade next year. After he left, we talked quite a bit about what that means, that they are graduating junior high and going to high school. One of my girls is not only going to high school next year but moving to another state across the country with her family. LOTS of big changes for her. She asked me this question, "When does life stop being terrifying and stressful?"
Uh....girl. Never. I'm pretty honest with my kids. My response was that honestly, it never does. As you grow older you will face things you never imagined and things won't work out the way you might have planned, but luckily as you grow older you figure out the best ways to deal with those situations so that you can come out on the other side a stronger and better person.
Sorry for the rant but the point is...I'm stressed right now. I'm also in a position where I'm dealing with 65 eighth graders on a daily basis who are getting ready to graduate into semi-adulthood and they're kind of freaking out about it. As a teacher, I believe in educating the whole child. You can't be the best learner, student, mother, sister, girlfriend, friend, or teacher if you aren't working on educating yourself mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. I may be going through a rough patch in my personal life, but I still have an obligation to my students and I'm trying to remember I'm a role model, maybe one of the very few positive ones they have in their lives. It's my job to set an example and show them how to deal with stress, difficult life situations, and overall trials, because only when I deal with those things am I in a position to be the best teacher I can be. I can't let it infect my job, because I have a responsibility to my students.
That being said, I'll tell you that many people handle stress in unhealthy ways. Including me. Like, eating! I'm actually the opposite but still in an unhealthy way: an emotional non-eater. If I'm stressed, I don't eat. Not healthy. I also tend to turn to shopping when I'm stressed. Don't even get me started on how unhealthy that is. For the sake of trying to not inundate this post with even more words, here are 10 HEALTHY ways to relieve stress:
1. Exercise: any kind of exercise! Take a walk with your pup, do some yoga, run a mile, whatever gets your heart pumping and endorphins going.
2. Read. Self explanatory. Calms your mind down, allows you to focus on something else.
3. Meditate- even if it's just five minutes. Clear your mind , breathe evenly, and allow emptiness to overtake you. It's quite lovely :)
4. De-clutter your life. For me this means fixing my teaching desk. You can tell when my life is all over the place because so is my desk! Papers everywhere! My desk is something I can control, therefore it needs to be organized.
5. Talk to a friend....who is willing to listen!
6. Disconnect- put down the phone, TV, computer, etc for awhile and let your brain relax.
7. Listen to music..duh :)
8. Journaling- all those crazy thoughts in your brain right now? Get them on paper. Write them down, then walk away.
9. Massage or facial- not even an expensive one! Get one of those self massagers where you can brush your back, or hop on down to Lush and pick up a lovely face mask at home. Then incorporate a few of these....meditate, listen to music, disconnect during your facial. Perfection.
10. Go outside. My favorite. Just getting some fresh air can clear you head in a big way.
How do you release stress? What's your worst unhealthy stressful habit?