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Kicking off stress and the need to be perfect!!

You never know where life might take you, but your kids are counting on you and watching what resilience looks like. So the Lizard Learning team and I have put together some tips that might help productively deal with your stress so that it doesn’t overwhelm you. It’s a huge responsibility to guide, nurture and support your students to cope with problems and the management of adversities which is life, but you can’t do that if you don’t look after yourself first.

Set yourself clear goals and make plans for achieving them – Having a clear goal when it comes to tasks makes it easier to focus on achieving them. One method for clarifying your goal is to ask yourself: ‘What needs to be different when I am done?’ For example: The goal of a lesson may be to teach your students their times tables, or explain an assessment. Once you have a clear goal in mind you can construct a plan to achieve it. Most stress stems from anxiety about the future, and let’s face it, most of what we worry about, actually NEVER HAPPENS!! What I do now is to think of a concrete plan of what I want to see as the result. I break the steps down into smaller goals to achieve each day. If your current situation, worry or stress is one that you know will re-occur in the future, (like report card writing, parent information night, first day back at school organisation) refine your plan and keep it for next time, and you can relieve stress before it even appears.

Reflect – Every situation needs reflection You might need to reflect on where your students are as we begin Term 4 from where they began 10 months ago. In reflection it is always so easy to look at the negatives; what you haven’t done, what needs to be done, what should have been done, what you didn’t achieve. In this piece we are going to focus on the positives. More importantly than fixing things that went wrong, is remembering what went RIGHT. Go there now with a current situation you have swirling about in your head. Take one step more and grab a piece of paper and pen and journal it, pour it out onto paper. You are already feeling great aren’t you? You already have a smile on your face as you realise you really have achieved extreme steps forward with the situation at hand. I would like to show you an example here. You might have a child in your class, let’s call him Shane. Shane was unruly, couldn’t sit still, yelled out at inappropriate times, in trouble at every lunch break. Have a look at Shane now in your mind. You will see that Shane might be able to sit for a 20 minute lesson without calling out. He might only have 2 time outs last term instead of 22 in Term 1. See where this is going? Looking at the situation from a positive position makes a world of difference and pretty much eliminates the worry.

Remember, even on the days where nothing seems to go to plan, there are always a few things that went right. Before bed, visualise all the awesome and fabulous moments, activities, spoken words, and situations where you absolutely rocked it! Focusing on the positives and building a new plan from the great moments will continue to attract more positive situations and a greater sense of empowerment that you are doing great things each and every day!

Make sure you have the necessary resources and support – No matter how excellent your plan is, if you don’t have the resources and support that you need, achieving a successful outcome seems all that little harder. So…it is okay to delegate or ask for help when things get overwhelming. People won’t think less of you if you admit that you need help, and building a strong support network will make it easier to deal with any future problems that might crop up.

Don’t let perfectionism get in your way – I struggled with perfectionism for way too long than I care to remember. Lizard Learning would be a publishing company by now if I wasn’t so hell bent on every detail being just right! Let that go out the window. Kick it to the kerb. I no longer struggle with the idea that I need to be perfect, don’t get me wrong, that pesky self-doubt, that need to have that page checked one-more-time, still crops up but I beat it with a big stick now before it does any more damage. We all want to do our best, but obsessing over every little detail doesn’t get that project finished, doesn’t have you starting that course and it certainly stops the opportunities for helping others while you sit and procrastinate. Insisting on everything being perfect impacts on your productivity and creates unnecessary stress over minor details. Will your plan help you achieve your goals in a way that benefits both you and your students? Then it’s a good plan, go with it and watch what path it takes you on.

Streamline – As long as you are still achieving your goals it’s okay to make things easy for yourself. Making something complicated doesn’t always make it good. I believe this is another mindset shift we need to make – life can be easy, fun and uncomplicated. Streamlining also gives you more time to reach your goals. If you are finding yourself constantly feeling rushed, take a look at your schedule and set aside some time to work on streamlining your plans. The perfect example here is the amount of time teachers waste on creating resources for their classroom. There are millions of resources on the internet that are a simple click, print and it’s done. Lizard Learning for instance has pretty much everything covered for a primary school teacher to cut their planning by at least half each week. Focus on what is important first, then if you find the time for more, you can feel proud of yourself for going above and beyond.

Give yourself a break – Dwelling on the things that are making you stressed doesn’t help anybody. Look back at your day and ask yourself: ‘Did I pretty much accomplish everything I could today?’ If the answer is yes, cut yourself some slack and adjust your expectations for yourself. Nothing will burn you out faster than trying to achieve more than you physically can.

Write this mantra out and repeat each day:

It is okay to have quiet time for me each day.

It is okay to not be perfect.

It is okay to ask for help.

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