Five Ways to (Try) Keep Your Sanity

Posted By: Dr. Lindsay Pfister AASPA Blog ,

As I sit here in September listening to holiday music, (see #1 below), I am reflecting on all that has happened in our country and schools since March. Our departments are often busy during this time of year, but I am guessing none of us could have imagined a world-wide pandemic, social unrest, new Title IX regulations, unprecedented unemployment, FFCRA EFMLA/EPSL, etc., etc., etc.

Many would look at that list and wonder how we willingly go to work each day. Some days we may even ask that question. As a way to help you to continue to show up, I thought I would offer a few minutes of escape with some ways to help you keep your sanity and hopefully provide a few laughs.

#1 Find Something You Enjoy and Do It!

One of the things I love most in the world is the holiday season. My husband would be quick to tell you that I turn into Buddy the Elf the day after Thanksgiving. So though it may be September I have tuned Pandora to holiday music and am playing it as I work. It brings me joy, relaxes me, and keeps me thinking of happy times.  While holiday music in September may not be your thing, as it seems not to be most people’s based on the odd looks I get, find something that is and do it.  We all need a few minutes or hours to escape the demands on us to relieve stress and actually breathe. Though some may think we are robots, we are actually human and can only endure so much. I encourage you to try one thing you enjoy in the coming week and see how even something small can make a big difference in how you feel.  

#2  Acknowledge What You have Accomplished

One of my mom’s favorite sayings is “I am so far behind that I think I am in first place.” I do not doubt that most of you can relate to this saying. Often we can focus on what needs to be done and forget about all that we have accomplished. Take a moment, right now.. go ahead.. I’ll wait.. and look back over the last day, week, month, or six months and see what you have accomplished. I do not doubt you have hired, onboarded, and exited staff; answered countless questions and emails; talked numerous individuals off the ledge (hopefully this has been figuratively); learned multiple new laws and policies; processed several leaves; and ________(fill in blank). If we only look at what we need to do and not what we have done we can feel defeated and stuck. Acknowledging how you have helped your district to continue to function is important so you recognize that you are making progress and a contribution.

#3 Breathe

Sounds simple, but it's not. As we become stressed, we begin to take shallow, rapid breaths which we may not even realize is happening.  Taking full, slow breaths allows us to calm down, focus, and become present in the moment. There are many ways to bring you and your breathing back to a positive place. There are multiple apps such as Calm or Headspace, videos online, or settings on fit trackers or smart watches to guide this process. If you cannot access one of these, try inhaling deeply while counting to four, hold your breath for a count of three, and exhale slowly counting to eight. Do this a few times. You will begin to relax and feel tension start to subside.

#4  Keep It All in Perspective 

Yes, we are dealing with difficult situations. Yes, everyone is looking to you to interpret laws and policies that even their authors do not understand. However, it is important to keep everything in perspective. You are working hard, giving your all, and doing all you can to meet the needs of your district and staff. Remember, even Superman, Wonder Woman, or (insert your favorite superhero) had to sleep, made mistakes, and helped a ton of people.

#5 You Gotta Laugh

Last, but definitely not least, is you need to laugh. Find humor wherever you can all through the day. Often we support our districts and the employees through the best times and the most challenging. During times where we are dealing with a constant onslaught of difficult situations, we can become run down and overwhelmed. It is true that sometimes if we don’t laugh we’ll cry. It may be difficult, but we have to be open to humor. And if it isn’t appearing go find something to laugh at - turn on a comedy station, watch a funny video, or think of a time that really made you laugh. Laughing has been proven to help people heal so take advantage of it.