Something, or maybe a lot of things, aren’t feeling quite normal right now, especially for teachers. Your routines shifted. Your classroom may now be hosted from a computer screen, or you’re connecting with your students behind masks and plexiglass. Faces are covered, making smiles in the hallways feel few and far between.
With the stress of this year combined with waves of COVID-19 cases and unrest in our communities, let’s face it — life is overwhelming. And however you’re feeling mentally, it’s OK. Acknowledge those emotions, surround yourself with a strong support system and together, we’ll get through it.
Understanding and Dealing With Your Emotions
The way that each of us processes information and works through emotional struggles can vary significantly, depending on personality types and specific situations. While some of us may feel better catching up on news throughout the day to stay informed, others will find that more stressful and overwhelming.
Calming techniques for you may include hot tea and yoga, while for your spouse it looks more like a phone call with a friend or a run around the neighborhood.
Let’s take a look at how to achieve rest and recovery time, based on how you’re feeling:
For Those Feeling Disconnected
Feeling disconnected might mean that you're experiencing loneliness or missing regular social interactions, whether with your students or fellow teachers. You might also feel like you're not in touch with things that are happening with your friends and family, or the world in general. If this sounds like you, try to:
- Acknowledge that your feelings are valid, and that you may be hiding them to protect yourself.
- Journal what’s going on around you. What do you see? What are you hearing? How are you reacting?
- Recount something that usually brings you happiness. A funny movie? A good book? Give that a try.
- Try finding physical connections, such as small exercises, taking a hot shower, etc., to remind you of your emotional connections.
For Those Feeling Hopeless
Have recent events left you feeling discouraged and disempowered? Do you ever feel incapable of handling your responsibilities? If you’re feeling hopeless, you’re not alone. Try to:
- Connect with a member of your support group, a trusted friend or family member, and share your concerns.
- Read a book that focuses on a success story.
- Skip the daily news check-in, if you’ve been scrolling social media or watching TV.
- Take a small, actionable step, such as making a donation or simply checking in on someone else who you know is having a rough time.
For Those Feeling Hypervigilant
Can’t seem to turn off the news lately? Have you been logging too much screen time on your phone or tablet? If you’re feeling overly informed, maybe even a bit paranoid, consider:
- Limiting your exposure to news and social media by setting a timer for a certain amount of time you feel comfortable with and putting your phone away during that time.
- Organizing a space at home with textures and elements that make you feel safe, comfortable and protected.
- Scheduling a time to check-in with a trusted friend or family member daily and talk about how you’re feeling.
For Those Feeling Overstimulated
Do you feel more sensitive lately than you used to? Does your mind tend to hop from one subject to the next without giving you time to process your thoughts? If you’re feeling jumpy and overstimulated, try to:
- Drink cold water.
- Set time aside to relax and practice deep breathing in a cool, dark room.
- Squeeze and tighten your hands and toes, release and repeat to loosen tension.
- Turn your technology off for as long as you can maintain (anything non-work or school related).
For Those Feeling Overwhelmed and Indecisive
Are you having a tough time making decisions? Do you often feel overwhelmed, like you’re stuck in place and unable to take action? If this sounds like you, consider:
- Checking-in with a member of your support system.
- Creating a realistic task list to organize your thoughts and responsibilities.
- Exercising for at least 15 minutes.
- Practicing deep breathing.
- Taking one step at a time and look at what immediately comes next, rather than days or months ahead.
For Those Feeling Unsupported
Especially during a change of routine and a different-looking school day, it’s natural to feel like you’re alone, even though many may be experiencing the same loneliness as you. To find others to connect with:
- Discuss your emotions with other teachers, friends and family — someone unexpected may be experiencing similar feelings.
- Seek out mental health resources for added support.
Support When You Need It
When you begin to feel overwhelmed or confused by certain emotions, allow yourself to process through those thoughts. With the uncertainty that surrounds us, it’s perfectly understandable to also feel uncertain mentally.
But you don’t have to work towards a state of comfort and peace on your own. We’re dedicated to making it easy to get the support you need, whether it's talking to a counselor, staying informed or seeing a doctor from home.
Each of these mental health resources is free, confidential, available in multiple languages and here for everyone:
This is an essential service that connects people to expert social services support in the local area. Trained specialists are available at any time to assist people with mental health crises, referral services, essential needs and disaster assistance.
Phone: Call or text 211
Crisis Text Line
The Crisis Text Line is here for you if you’re experiencing any kind of emotional or mental crisis. It’s a convenient option if you’d rather not or are unable to talk on the phone, and you can connect with a trained crisis counselor in under five minutes, in most cases.
Phone: Text HOME to 741741
National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine is a peer-support service that’s available to anyone. This line is staffed with trained volunteers who can answer your questions, offer support and provide practical next steps for you — no matter what kind of mental health crisis you’re facing.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support to anyone in emotional distress, including from suicidal thoughts. They offer both phone calls and online chatting with trained crisis counselors who can help you through a crisis.
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline
This helpline is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a national organization dedicated to helping people with substance use disorders and mental health conditions. You can reach trained crisis counselors on this line at any time if you’re experiencing emotional distress from a natural or human-caused disaster, including infectious diseases like COVID-19.
As we continue to face the challenge of COVID-19, we’re dedicated to keeping you safe. Find additional coronavirus-related resources and information on the Coronavirus Resource Hub, available here. We’ve also created a hub specifically dedicated to teachers, staff, parents and students to help navigate the school year, available here.