3 Ways Teachers Can Find Balance

In a world that feels pretty unbalanced every day, teachers need ways to find balance--a crucial part of stress management and self-care.

Longtime teacher, presenter, and author James Alan Sturtevant provides numerous ways teachers can pursue balance in his new book, Teaching in Magenta: 100 Paths to Joy and Well-being for You and Your Students

Section 3: Magenta Teachers Pursue Balance

Pretend that you’re a boat in distress, stranded in the middle of the ocean and tossed back and forth and up and down by a violent storm. Life can certainly be like that. But it’s reassuring to have a stable captain at the helm, guiding the vessel and calming the passengers.

This section will help you become like that brave captain navigating life’s treacherous waters, a magnificent accomplishment in its own right. Obtaining balance can also be a marvelous gift to your students. You could become a calm Polaris to kids, many of whom experience typhoons as they circumvent adolescence.  

Path 41: Remain Calm

In my Social Studies Department, we frequently ask each other, “How’s your supplemental class?” This is the ultra-challenging class for which you probably deserve extra pay for facing each day.

We all have classes like this. How about today taking deep breaths and repeating an affirmation before you wade in? It’s just one class, and it’s just one period. Every teacher in every school has a supplemental class. I have plenty of company, and I’ll be fine. I will eventually bond with these kids, and that will be wonderful for them and me.

Determine to manage your anxiety as you stroll into your supplemental class. If you’re successful, this class could become one of your favorite periods of the day. 

Path 42: Breathe Like a Navy SEAL

I love the books and podcasts by former Navy SEAL Mark Divine, and I’m inspired by the ordeal that potential Navy SEALS must endure. I can’t fathom withstanding cold water for extended periods, but I learned that one of their coping mechanisms is controlled breathing.

Mark has minted the label “box breathing” for his version of this technique. It goes like this: breathe in for a four-count, hold your breath for a four-count, exhale for a four-count, and then hold your breath again for a four-count. Repeat. Methodical breathing can help manage panic.

I utilize box breathing during workouts and before stressful situations. Try it today before your challenging class or before a meeting with your principal. If you can snatch a bit of calm before such trials, you may find unexpected success.

Path 43: Celebrate Your Sanctuary

If you’ve lived long enough, you’ve experienced a catastrophe. It could be a health issue, the painful end of a relationship, the death of a beloved parent or spouse, or the devastating loss of a child. I’ve experienced, or dear friends have experienced, each of these tragedies.

When they strike, it seems impossible to get out of bed when the alarm erupts. That assumes, however, that you’ve even slept a wink. But just maybe, getting out of bed and going to school are exactly what you need. Your classroom is a remarkably stable sanctuary.

Today, appreciate this anchor. When your world is falling apart, your classroom and your students will be a bedrock of normality. Recognize this anchor as a magnificent asset.

Excerpted from Teaching in Magenta, published by Times 10

The next time you find yourself feeling unbalanced, remember these three Paths Magenta Teachers use to pursue balance:

  1. remain calm
  2. breathe like a navy seal
  3. find your sanctuary

One of these or a combination of the three can bring joy and well-being, along with that all-important balance that teachers and school leaders need daily.

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