With the frenzy of the testing season nearing an end and the promise of summer vacation looming tantalizingly close, I thought it might be helpful to suggest how to find your zen and help lower your blood pressure and breathe easier. I know that teachers take care of themselves last. We push ourselves to finish lesson plans, grade papers, and attend after-school activities. We often do this to the detriment of our own families and our own well-being. Relaxation suggestions for teachers often go unheeded. This needs to stop.
Once again, I polled my educator friends for their ideas on how they decompress. Here are seven relaxation suggestions for teachers to blow off steam, cop a moment of zen, and totally blot out the world for a moment or two. These ideas may give you enough time to remember that you are the cog that keeps the wheel turning. If you are broken, so is everything else—no pressure here. (Full disclosure, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases you make by clicking on the links I’ve provided here. Hey, it saves you all that time searching!)
Let’s start with what you can do while you are in class.
1. You know that sinking feeling when your https://transparencyinteaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/joshua-hoehne-wWkCAnmFF20-unsplash-1-526×296-1.jpegistrator asks to see you in her office. Does she compliment you on how well you handle troubled students right before she tells you about the new student you’re getting that was expelled from another school district? Or how much she depends on you to organize the district writing competition because “we want to make sure our school is represented?” Do you grit your teeth behind the fake smile and say, “No problem!” when you’d really like to punch something or someone?
Well, fear not because here’s the answer: The Dammit Doll. A person-shaped stuffed doll that doesn’t mind you whacking it against your desk, or a wall, or being thrown across a room. A safe proxy for your anxiety-ridden anger that won’t get the police called.
They’ll send you a random-colored one of these handmade dolls! They also have some that you can choose the design, but they are a bit pricier. Here’s what an Amazon purchaser who is a teacher said about owning a dammit doll:
“I’m a teacher, and I’ve had a dammit doll on my desk for years. People (adults and students alike) regularly picked it up, read the poem, and gave it a good whack or two. Then they’d say they needed one, too. Best https://transparencyinteaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/joshua-hoehne-wWkCAnmFF20-unsplash-1-526×296-1.jpegistrator gift EVER. I’ve only had to sew up one little tear on mine after over six years of abuse.” Saralee Stevens
2. If whacking a doll around isn’t your thing, perhaps a more subtle form of tension relief may be in order. Consider instead the Anboor voodoo doll squishy. Project the object of your distress onto the doll and squeeze away. The squishy dolls are easy to squash and bounce back quickly for multiple attempts at retribution. They even have a pleasant smell (after you let them air out for a few days).
Wind Down On the Way Home
3. I know that I heaved a sigh of relief many days when that last bell rang at the end of the day, sending all the students back to their lairs. I’d find myself sitting in my car and taking a moment to decompress before actually turning on the car for the drive home. Wouldn’t it be nice if my car felt a bit spa-like? Since I’m not wealthy enough to afford an Audi with massaging seats, I turn to aromatherapy as an effective way to relieve stress using lavender.
According to HealthMatch, “Most studies suggest that inhaling lavender essential oil for a minimum of three minutes, but preferably 10 to 30 minutes at a time, is effective. The positive effects can be experienced soon after inhalation as it is absorbed quickly.” So why not get those positive effects while riding home in your car? Many air fresheners can do the job, but I’ve found that the vent clip styles seem to work the best. These from Air Jungles promise to give you 30 days of lavender relaxation. With six in a package, they are great relaxation suggestions for teachers because they will relax you for the next six months. That means relaxing car rides from now to the beginning of the next school year until October!Coming Home to Relaxation
Spa on the sofa and in the sack
4. Once home, don’t let the lavender therapy stop. You’ve got to try these lavender heated eye pads! My sister bought me these the first time, and I have not been without them since. The gentle heat and scent make for a “Calgon, take me away moment” (If you remember that slogan, you’re probably a Boomer).
5. Add a cup of Numi De-Stress tea to sip while you relax with your warming eye mask. Numi’s teas are fantastic. They are ethically sourced and strive to use environmentally and socially responsible business practices. So you can relax even more knowing you are supporting a company that helps the planet and its people. Numi makes many great teas, and De-Stress is no exception. With passionflower, Kenna, and lemon balm, the scent alone will help you forget your hectic day.
5. So, the masks and tea care for the head, but what about the feet you stand on all day? I don’t know about you, but I’d take a foot massage over a back rub most days. While having a human partner to do the honors would be best, they aren’t always there on demand. But for minimal dollar output, you could have an on-demand foot massage with one of the many models of foot massagers available.
The Neuksso Foot Massager with heat and shiatsu deep kneading has multiple massage modes and adjustable air pressure intensity. There are cheaper machines but many only offer vibration. I like someone to really get into my arches, and the kneading feature does precisely that. Plus, you can remove the linings and wash them so you don’t have to mingle foot sweat with your loved ones. That is if your loved ones ever get a chance to use it.
6. Science tells us that a good night’s sleep will help refresh us enough to get through another day in the classroom with our calm intact. For at least eight hours each night, teachers need a way to let go of the day and forget about lesson plans, paper grading, and little Bobby’s ability to test your patience. While many claim weighted blankets reduce anxiety and enhance sleep, only a few studies support these claims. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t work either. Many people, including myself, swear by them.
Weighted blankets get their heaviness from either glass or plastic pellets. They range in weight from five to 30 pounds. Ideally, the blanket should be no more than ten percent of your weight. Too light and it won’t feel heavy enough to make a difference, and too heavy will make it difficult to move. I love the heaviness of the down comforter I use on my bed in the winter, but I wanted something I could throw over me anywhere without taking apart my bed. Plus, I don’t want to drag around a king-sized blanket.
So I opted for a twin size. This way, I could use it on myself without weighing down my partner. Or drag it to the sofa while binge-relaxing to a mindless rom-com on Netflix. Weighted blankets can be warm so you might opt for one with cooling fabric, like bamboo. Also, they aren’t very washer/dryer friendly due to their weight, so covering them with a duvet is a good idea. Otherwise, save your quarters for the laundromat.
Mind your body: Our Sharyn shares her secret
7. Yoga! The ultimate relaxation. If you have tried yoga and were a bit self-conscience, try Kundalini Yoga. Kundalini is yoga for EVERYBODY! Kundalini yoga focuses on breath, movement, and sound. The word kundal, means “coiled energy.” In an article for the website mbgMindfulness, Amanda Tarlton explains “… that we all have energy gathered at the base of our spine and, through the practice of Kundalini, we bring that energy up our spine through the seven chakras, and out the crown of our head.” Sharyn feels this is definitely a useful relaxation suggestion for teachers.
Sharyn says, “Kundalini yoga sessions intimidated me when I started because I am neither young nor flexible, but this yoga works for me.” It has many chants and movements that activate all sorts of body parts. Her favorite part is that this type of yoga centers around you. “Most sessions are with your eyes closed in the quiet of your brain space. This type of practice allows me to feel the movements of MY body and not worry about what everyone else is doing!” claims Sharyn.
Kundalini yogis recommend wearing white in natural fibers to help protect your aura since white reflects all light wavelengths allowing you to protect your aura. Here are my recommendations. These clothes are perfect, loose-fitting, light-colored, and made of natural fabrics.
Sharyn loves the fit of this tee and the saying, “Ong namo guru dev namo.” Ong Namo means, “I bow to the Divine wisdom of All That Is.” Guru Dev Namo means, “I bow to the Divine teacher within.” This mantra helps center the practitioner for asana or meditation practice and reinforces the connection to the Divine within and the universe. “This reminds me that I have the power to find the peace within myself,” says Sharyn.
These yoga pants are made of modal, a bio-based fabric made from spinning reconstituted beech tree cellulose. Modal is generally considered a more eco-friendly alternative to cotton because beech trees don’t require much water to grow; therefore, the production process uses about 10-20 times less water.
Here’s Sharyn’s favorite blanket that accompanies her to yoga sessions.
Make time to take time.
We must remember to care for ourselves before, during, and after work and allow our brains and bodies downtime so we can be up for anything. Although the relaxation suggestions for teachers in this post definitely will aid in relaxation, none of them will work if you don’t make “ Me Time” a priority. It’s not selfish to give yourself a “time out” at work or ask for a few moments to decompress once you are home. In fact, it’s probably the most loving thing you can do. It will make you more present, more patient, and more available to those who need you, including yourself.