Can Teachers Recover From Burnout? Discover What's Really Causing It & How You Can Fix It!
Updated: Sep 22, 2018
I didn't realize that becoming a district-wide teacher trainer would open my eyes to the stress and chronic illnesses teachers suffered until I was invited to work in over 300 classrooms!
The last six years of my 25 years of teaching was as a teacher trainer for hundreds of teachers in my school district. It was a brand new position where I would co-teach with teachers on best practices for their Gifted and Talented students, but they quickly learned it would benefit all students and themselves, as well. But this isn't a post about fantastic teaching techniques and programs, this is about helping teachers stay empowered in their own lives and to get their health and wellbeing back.
Every teacher has been through it. The end of the year couldn't come fast enough. Projects and self-care that were put off for nine months can now be dealt with, but at what cost? From over 3,725 teachers surveyed in my district, 73% said they felt stressed. Whoa!
If the majority of teachers feel stressed in their jobs, how is it affecting their health and wellbeing, and the students they teach?
I became the fly on the wall!
The dynamic ones were frustrated with the lack of support, usually at the administrative and district level, the younger ones were overwhelmed, and the veterans were trying to keep the ship together telling their hall-mates, "This too shall pass."
I would go into detail, but you get the gist. I saw what these additional stressors were doing to the overall health and well-being of these tireless champions. I had been there, in my own classroom, feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and defeated, but now I saw it first-hand all over the district- in hundreds of classes!
They were burning out, and no one was doing anything to help them, except to check in with their doctors or well-ness programs, where they were most likely put on a prescription drug.
I was in a teacher lunchroom prepping for a class, when I overheard 12 teachers convincing a younger teacher to get on Prozac. Eight of them were already on the anti depressant for anxiety. They were all sharing reasons they got on the drug, yet some spoke about the side-effects. I was deeply troubled when I heard the ease of conversation about getting on a drug instead of looking at the root of the cause. Weaning off of an antidepressant can be incredibly hard, and you are only numbing something temporarily.
Studies are now showing the rise in teacher burnout, and how this epidemic is not only impacting the quality of education but the health of teachers at large. (1)
After struggling with a question I knew would change my life, should I retire for my health's sake, I took a three-month leave of absence before making such a life-altering decision. By June 2016, after 25 years of teaching, I knew if I wanted a quality life, I should retire. I left my career; a security blanket of health insurance and steady income, and begin my research writing on biotechnologies, neurosciences, biohacking and wellbeing.
Since retiring, I have gained so much insight into the signs and symptoms of severe stress and how it takes its toll on the body. I consider myself lucky because I was able to identify the stress markers that would eventually turn into chronic disease.
My symptoms were:
25 lbs. weight gain in 18 months
Inability to work out
Dry eyes and skin
Lack of focus, unable to find my words
As I worked with my colleagues, I could see the majority of them suffering from the same symptoms. Not surprisingly though, when I inquired further, many were struggling with chronic illnesses.
First stage cancers