Self Care

Summer Anxiety: What it is and how teachers can deal with it

I love summer. Like, I really love summer. People talk about getting board during the summer, and I have to say… I do not. I love summer. But do you know what I do not love about summer? The summer anxiety that goes along with it.

Also known as back to school anxiety, summer anxiety is that feeling of dread and terror every time that you think about the upcoming school year. It often includes nightmares about all of the terrible things that can go wrong next year— or that did go wrong last year– and causes stress shopping in the Target Dollar Spot.

For a long time, I thought that I was totally alone in this whole summer anxiety thing. Then one day, of the the administrators made a comment about having back to school nightmares.

I couldn’t believe that other people had this same problem– but I was so glad other people have this problem.

So if you have this problem as well, I want you to know a few things about summer anxiety, and also about how to combat it so that it does not ruin your summer.

If you prefer to watch/listen, then you can check out the video version of this post on my YouTube– I really believe this is an important subject!

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room

What causes summer anxiety?

Summer anxiety is cause by the fear of the unknown– it is as simple as that. New school years bring new students, new teachers, new curriculums, new administrators, new rules, etc. Everything can change over a summer– and you will not know until you return for preplanning in the fall. All of the unknowns cause you to feel stress.

Summer Anxiety is Normal

When we hit one month before preplanning, I started to freak out. I was already starting to have nightmares, and every time I would think about school, I would get a feeling of dread in my stomach.

And when you spend all summer workings on Teachers Pay Teachers, my new teacher-centered Etsy shop, making YouTube videos for teachers, and my new book all about teaching, it is not something that I could get away from. Well, I could, but that would cause me to have far fewer YouTube videos and TPT products, which I would regret once school starts and I get truly busy.

I put a poll out on my Instagram stories (Do you follow me on Instagram? You definitely should!) and almost all of the teachers who answered said that they also felt summer anxiety. This is of course not a super professional study, but it did tell me that two things:

  1. I am not alone.
  2. Other people might need help navigating this.

Summer anxiety does not make you a bad teacher

I would venture to say the opposite– if you are spending part of your summer worrying about the next school year, then you must be a good teacher. One who wants to do her best and make next year as good as possible.

Summer anxiety is all about wanting this year to go well. That may manifest itself in dread (guilty!), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be a teacher, or that you are a bad teacher. It simply means that you know some of the realities of things that can happen in the course of a school year, and that you want to be good.

If you are worried about the school year in the summer, than you are a good teacher. Period.

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room

So what can we do about summer anxiety?

So, we have established that you are not alone, and that you are a good teacher. But…. we still do not want you to spend the whole summer stressing.

There are plenty of things that you can do in order to decrease the anxiety and help yourself move on. Here are a few ideas:

Accept that you cannot fix everything now.

One of the main causes of summer anxiety is all of the unknowns about the upcoming school year. Want to know the real, scary truth? You cannot fix all of them right now. You will not be able to find out your schedule or your roster until it is time for school to start. And that stinks. But, you need to accept that some things will be unknowns until preplanning. Tell yourself that you can deal with it once school starts, and move on. As best you can, at least.

Focus on the positives.

I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel anxious about the school year, I am thinking about all of the things that went wrong. I am thinking about the one time that a student with autism ran out of the room. Or the one time that there was a child jumping off of the tables (that hold pianos!) and his parents told me, “Well, he’s 6. He has some energy.” (True story, by the way.) Or the time that I had to physically restrain a student who hadn’t taken her medicine because she tried to attack another student in the class, which resulted in me getting hit, kicked, scratched, pinched, and bit (Which, by the way, prompted me to write the post Going Back to Teaching After a Really Rough Day.)

Now, honestly, I do not normally get quite that real in my blog or my YouTube videos or my Instagram. Not because I do not think that I should, but because I know that there are a lot of teachers who read that last paragraph and totally changed their opinion of me. Some people cannot relate, and therefore think that 1. I am crazy or 2. I have no idea how to manage my class. Just so you know, I am not crazy, and I do know how to mange my class. But I have some really difficult children who are in really rough situations, and sometimes they manifest themselves in behaviors such as the ones above.

In this post, I want to be as real as possible, because I know that there are people in similar situations with similar problems who are currently stressing out about those kinds of things. And I want them to be able to know they are not alone. If you read that and think that clearly I have lost my mind, then just count yourself lucky and pray you never have a situation like that.

I do not want to get too deep into this, but may write a whole post about this subject by itself.

Anyway.

When you have really rough things that have happened, it is really hard to stop thinking about them. And you may have a really hard time not dwelling on them and being terrified that they will happen again.

I get that I have been there. You are not alone.

But in order to have less anxiety and stress, try thinking about some of your favorite moments from the last school year. Think about the things that went right, and things that you cannot wait to experience again.

Negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity. If you think about the positive things, then you will have a much better outlook on the upcoming school year.

A few things that I am reminding myself to look forward to:

  • Having a whole 1st grade class using their singing voices
  • Having students request a song
  • The first performance with my choir
  • A class that goes as planned
  • A student telling me that I am their favorite teacher

Those are just a couple of really amazing things that happened last year, that I am looking forward to and focusing on. The more I focus on them, the less I focus on those bad things that happened.

Start planning.

Now, we established that there are a lot of things you do not have control over and cannot deal with yet. But there are also a lot of things you can do now to feel more prepared and less stressed.

Make some goals: What are some things you want to accomplish this year? What will you do better? Start thinking of ways that you can have your best year yet now. Maybe come up with new routines (check out this post!) or make a plan to get organized (and I have the lesson planning templates for that!).

Planning your curriculum: Start looking for some things you would like to incorporate this year! Now is the best time to pick a couple of fun lessons out. You can peruse Pinterest, or look on blogs (if you teach music, I have tons of free lessons on here that you can check out– you can also gain access to the free resource library by clicking here!)

Plan your classroom: Now, I do not like to spend a lot of money on my classroom, but I do like to buy or make a few little things here and there to help me “nest”. Having a new book or a new rug or a new banner will help you the feel a little more excited and a little bit less stressed for the upcoming year. Check out my classroom tour here.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Strategies

Do you experience summer anxiety? How do you deal with it? Let us know down in the comments!

And don’t forget to sign up for access to the FREE resource library! I send out weekly updates, plus monthly free resources! Sign up here!

Happy teaching!

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room
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Easy Self Care Tips for Teachers

Let’s level here: October was difficult for me. I am not entirely sure what it was, but it just felt like a struggle every. Single. Day. That doesn’t mean that every day was bad, but it means I had to be super intentional about getting things done and having the right mindset. I had to be really intentional about my self care. And there were still some day where it just wasn’t happening.

Yup, Becca, who always advocates that morning routine slept in multiple times in October.

But you know what? I have faith that November will be better. Not just because we have Thanksgiving break soon, but because I learned a lot about my self care needs while going through the ridiculousness of October.

Side note, did anyone else think that it dragged on forever?

Here are some super simple ideas for self care that you can implement immediately. I’m not suggesting anything crazy. Seriously, super simple. Try them. Then let us know in the comments if they were helpful for you!

Also, if you are interested in getting access to exclusive free resources, sign up for my resource library! I send out two email a month– usually talking about some of the free resources available. Once you get access, you can download as many things as you– and more resources are added every few weeks. Sign up here!

Easy Self Care tips for Teachers. Teachers are always taking care of everyone else in the world, but when is the last time you took care of yourself? These ideas are easy to implement and do not take up very much time! Becca's Music Room



Leave School at School

First thing is first—leave school at school. Now, I’m not saying you have to leave as soon as the bell rings. I’m saying, don’t bring home a ton of work.

What that says is: you will never escape the work.

And what happens 90% of the time? You bring it home with the intention to work on grading papers while you watch TV. But then you realize at home you have 50 other things to do, so that doesn’t happen. You take the papers back to school tomorrow feeling guilty and ashamed.

A better alternative? Stay a few minutes extra and then leave it at school. I talk about grading hacks in this video if you need some ideas how when to get them done.

But seriously—when you go home, GO HOME.

Now, I will admit, I do often make resources at home. But that is mostly because I am putting them into my TPT shop, so I don’t want to work on them at school, even if they are for school as well.

 

TAKE YOUR LUNCH BREAK

This is one of the best pieces of advice about self care that I can give you. It’s also one of the things I am the WORST at.

Take your lunch break.

I’ll say it again and let it sink in: take your lunch break.

I know you have 50 thousand things to do. I do too. And every day at lunch I start thinking, I need to do this and this and this.

And then I stop myself and say: take your lunch break.

It really does help. When I take a break at lunch, I feel refreshed and ready to go rather then frustrated and annoyed.

Legistically, how do I accomplish this without shirking my responsibilities?

Normally, I will check my email (I don’t even respond during lunch—just look and see what is in there). If something is urgent I’ll respond, otherwise I leave them unread. Then I look at my to do list and make sure there is nothing that needs to be done prior to my next class (copies or setting out instruments). If I need to call a parent, I will. Otherwise, I leave everything for my planning or after school.

It feels weird. I used to work through lunch every single day. But I promise, it makes a difference. Even if you only take half of your lunch as a break, do it.

Also read: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching

Easy Self Care tips for Teachers. Teachers are always taking care of everyone else in the world, but when is the last time you took care of yourself? These ideas are easy to implement and do not take up very much time! Becca's Music Room



Have an activity to get your mind off of school

So once you have left school at school, now what? Do you get home frustrated and annoyed? Still thinking about testing and study guides?

As soon as you get home—or on your way home—find a way to get your mind off of school. Sit down, because you have not sat down all day, and just chill out for a few minutes.

For me, this has been reading. When I get home, I make myself some tea and a snack, and I read. My goal is 30 minutes, but sometimes it’s only 10 or 15, and that’s ok. The point really isn’t the reading. The point is to calm down, sit down, and think about things that are not school.

Admitedly, sometimes the books are school related, but still.

 

Take a bath

This is probably my favorite one—take a bath. Or a hot shower. But seriously—try a bath. Get some Epson salts and bubble bath (you cannot go wrong with my personal favorites right here! They are made for relaxing!) and soak for a little bit. This really does help your body to feel better and help your mind.

Bonus points if you read a book in there.

Which leads me to my next point…



Read a book

You tell your students to read, but when is the last time you read a book that was not education related? When is the last time that you read for fun?

I have been really intentional about getting my reading in (see above for when that happens), and it has made a huge difference. I am learning more and I know even if my day is crappy, I have 15 minutes where I get to read before I have to clean or make dinner or any of that mess. It’s great.

Need a new book? Here are a ton of book recommendations!

A few that I just finished and would highly recommend include The Alchemist, The Odyssey, and I am currently reading Circe, and it is really great so far. I cannot put it down.

 

Play some music

Upon reflection, that looks like you should put on Pandora. Now, that is actually a good idea, but not what I am meaning.

Pick up an instrument.

If you are a music teacher, when is the last time that you played music? I know that seems like a crazy concept.

I had a thought halfway through last year that went along the lines of this: I used to sing for about 2 hours a day. Then I would play piano and cello. And I haven’t practiced anything for months.

That realization was truly eye opening.

Now I plan to practice at least 2-3 times a week. Technically, I have it written down for every day but that doesn’t always happen. After reading, I turn on my keyboard, warm myself up, and flip to the next book in my Gabriel Faure songbook (because who doesn’t love a good French art song?).

It has been really great for me to get back to learning music that wasn’t pentatonic. Not that there is anything wrong with that—I enjoy it, which is why I teach elementary music. But I also enjoy learning difficult arias and art songs. It may take me two months to learn a song I could have previously learned in two weeks, but at least I’m still doing it.

I read a quote on Instagram lately that was something along the lines of, “How can we inspire students to read when we don’t enjoy reading anymore?” I really think the same thing is true for music teachers—we can’t inspire students to love music if we are not actively trying to improve out musicality.

So there are a few easy ways to incorporate some self care into your routine! I’ve get ideas for school and outside of school.

 

Also read: Elementary Music Classroom Tour

You know what else is great self care? Signing up for access to my free resource library so that you can download things instead of making them! There are different resources available, including a music interest survey and a steady beat chart (in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4). Once you get access to the exclusive content, you can keep coming back and downloading more! I add new resources every few weeks! Sign up here!

Now I’m curious, what do you do for self care? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Easy Self Care tips for Teachers. Teachers are always taking care of everyone else in the world, but when is the last time you took care of yourself? These ideas are easy to implement and do not take up very much time! Becca's Music Room



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