Have you ever had a lack of energy in the classroom? In this guest post written by Louisa Sammartino, you can learn how combat burnout with the power of improved posture and physical movement.
“Burnout hits 1 in 4 teachers.”
You are probably already counting down the days until the next school holiday break. But the fact is, by the end of the school term, you are exhausted – emotionally and physically. You spend the next two weeks of what should be your holidays, recovering from the long working hours, classroom work preparation, school reports, meetings and parent-teacher interviews.
Just as you begin to feel ‘normal’ and rested, you have to do it all over again.
What can you do for your physical health to better manage your stress to avoid the various stages of burnout? How can you break this vicious cycle?
Here are three simple steps to take back your power and energy in the classroom
1. Check your Posture
Merely changing your posture and engaging in expansive postures known as ‘power poses’ can lower the production of your stress hormones. So, the next time you are up in front of the class and teaching I encourage you to try standing a little taller and be open with your gestures. Not only will you capture your students’ attention but you will feel more relaxed. (1)
2. Breathing Exercises
Controlled breathing techniques are a promising antidote to combat stress and anxiety. What we often don’t realise is that when we are stressed our body stores tension and our breathing becomes shallow. Try taking a slow breath in for 5 seconds, holding for 5 seconds and then breathing out for 5 seconds. Repeat five times to decrease your heart rate and reconnect with your physical body. (2)
3. Physical Movement
Many forms of exercise are of benefit for stress reduction. Walking in nature is the easiest way to start. By orientating yourself in the environment, you create a calming effect on your nervous system. Yoga, Pilates, Meditation and Stretching all have a
positive impact on your well being and depending on your level of burnout and injuries, more vigorous exercise such as strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and running is all relevant and of benefit. (2)(3) Begin by incorporating some form of movement mentioned above at least 3 x per week to feel the benefits.
(1) Cuddy, A. J. C., Wilmuth, C. A., Yap, A. J., & Carney, D. R. (2015). Preparatory power posing affects the nonverbal presence and job interview performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(4), 1286–
(2) Esi van der Zwan, J,. De Vente, W., Huizink, A. C., Bögels, S. M., De Bruin, E. I. (2015). Physical
Activity, Mindfulness Meditation, or Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback for Stress Reduction: A
Randomized Controlled Trial. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, December 2015, Volume
40, Issue 4, pp 257–268.
(3) Gerber, M., Brand, S., Herrmann, C., Colledged, F., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., Puhse, U. (2014) Increased objectively assessed vigorous-intensity exercise is associated with reduced stress, increased mental health and good objective and subjective sleep in young adults. Physiology & Behaviour, August
2014, Volume 135, pp 17-24.