There are times when peace seems impossible during the school day but serenity is attainable with a few simple steps. Regular school years bring stress and anxiety for educators, and these past few years have ramped up the level of these stress hormones for those involved in education. It is important for everyone in the field of education to take time for themselves to calm their energy and relax.
Take two minutes during lunch to breathe deeply
Find at least two minutes in your day, during lunch or a break, where you can sit and focus on yourself. As you are sitting, check your posture. Make sure your shoulders are pulled back and not hunching forward. Straighten your spine and pull the pressure out of your hips. Elongate your neck. Begin breathing deeply by taking a deep breath in and letting it out through your mouth. Continue breathing in and out of your nose. There are many breathing techniques that can be used during this time. If you have a breathing technique you enjoy, then begin that process. If you are not sure what breathing to try, box breathing is an easy option that is detailed below.
Close your eyes and begin. Imagine a square in front of you. Each side of the square is four seconds long. Start with your attention at the bottom left corner of the box and inhale for four seconds as you draw your focus up the length of the box. When you reach the corner of the box you will hold your breath for four seconds, following along the top of the box. Feel the energy swirling within you. Then begin to exhale and take four seconds to fully expend all of the air and trace your focus down the right side of the square. After the exhale, hold your breath for another four seconds and follow the bottom of the box with your gaze. This should take you back to the spot where you began on the box. Repeat this process. You will inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and then hold for four seconds. Then you would start the next cycle. As you follow that process you are outlining the exterior of the box in your mind and you end where you began and continue the cycles. Take at least two minutes for this process
Slow down and be present in what you are doing
This is not a struggle singular to educators and would benefit most individuals. In the education field, there are many expectations and tasks that need to be completed each day. This often leads to multitasking and a long to-do list. Unfortunately, the focus on things that need to be done, rather than using the current moment to be as productive or aware as possible, sends our energy into a future that may not even exist. The thoughts of worry create a chemical reality within our bodies that mirrors what is experienced in the mind. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between the past, present, or the future and responds emotionally. This is important because focusing on the present can reduce those stress hormones. At this moment, what are you doing? What can you sense around you? What do you hear? What can you touch? What can you see? What are you going to focus on right now? Decide on the activity you are doing or the thing that has your focus and be fully present in that. Help the students around you. Complete the grading that needs to get done. Actually participate during that zoom meeting. When you catch your mind going to the past and what you should have done, bring it back to that present moment. If the mind starts to drift to the future and worry about what needs to be done, focus it back on the here and now.
Declutter your space for at least three minutes
Three minutes may seem like a small amount of time, but focusing on this one activity for three minutes will have bigger results than you realize. Focus on the area you spend most of your time or that will make the largest impact. While you declutter and rearrange your physical space, your mind is subconsciously processing and organizing information. It gives your conscious mind a rest. The physical space also benefits. This is often enough time to clear parts of a desk or a section of a classroom. Bask in the productivity of these three minutes when it is time to move on.
Use these techniques to gain more serenity and calm in your daily life. Making time for these few things can help increase your peace.
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