If you think the shopping mall is a stressful place during the holiday season, you have not been in a second grade classroom in December. Elementary school teachers practically run to the busy malls for rest and relaxation! Yes, that is an exaggeration, but not by much.
If you are a classroom teacher battling your December stress levels, here are seven relaxing ways to take back your sanity.
1. Fewer Holiday Projects
Having once been the queen of classroom holiday projects (at least I imagined I was), I speak from experience. It’s better for you AND FOR YOUR STUDENTS to select one or two holiday projects and let the rest go. My classroom may have looked super cute, but my students and I were miserable trying to get it all finished. Your students will be calmer, and your stress level will drop instantly, if you pull back on the projects.
2. Classical Music
Always a winner, classical music is one of the best stress reliever tools for the classroom. Other types of music will work too, but studies have shown that listening to classical music will help people eat less, and more slowly digest their food. Now, that is something to get excited about! So put on some Vivaldi, Handel or Bach and watch the musical magic unfold.
Don’t underestimate the power of doodling! There is something called “flow” that art therapists say happens when we sketch or doodle. It means that we become completely engaged and can even approach a meditative state. For students, sketching can clear their minds of concerns or stress and bring about a sense of calm. For teachers, sketching is an ideal activity during transition times throughout the school day and a sure-fire December stress reliever.
4. Starting the Day with a Happy Message
It might sounds corny, but studies show that putting our minds in a positive frame can help alleviate stress and even make us feel more confident. Simple exercises like asking students to each share one thing they feel grateful for, or one act of kindness they might show someone today, are easy and effective. They help take our minds off what we perceive as negative or stressful and add calm and clarity to the teaching day.
Dog and cats are great at this once. Have you noticed how they usually stretch before rising? Gentle stretching of muscles lengthens them, and in the process relieves stress. Knowing which muscles to stretch is the key. Suite 101 offers some easy stretching exercises that you and your students can practice together. http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/working_mothers/27221
6. Playing Games
We have all heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine”. There is no better stress reliever than having a good laugh, and one of the best ways to promote laughter is through classroom games. Even better, using high quality classroom games supports learning while students are busing laughing. That is a winning combination! You can find excellent classroom learning games at Teacher Treasures. http://teachertreasures.com
7. Deep Breathing
Perhaps the most effective stress relieving technique is also the easiest. Deep breathing is an ancient practice that can clear your mind, oxygenate your body and help you to focus. It most definitely relieves stress! Practice taking a deep (silent) breath along with your students. Those few seconds have the power to bring amazing calm into your teaching day.
Don’t let yourself be pushed toward the brink of insanity in your classroom this holiday season. Turn up Vivaldi, take a deep breath and enjoy a calm-filled December.