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A 2022 survey from the National Education Association (NEA) has turned up some staggering but unsurprising news. Of the teachers polled, 55% were considering leaving the field, up from 37% the previous August. Teachers are more stressed than ever before between politics and the pandemic, adding to the typical stressors of near-constant evaluation, a mountain of paperwork, constantly shifting best practices and a lack of bathroom breaks.
Teaching is truly a labor of love. You put on a brave face and make a difference in kids’ lives every day. Show yourself some love by putting together a basket or bin with some things that make you happy and can calm you on particularly stressful days. We’ve put together some ideas to get you started, but customize this to what makes you feel good.
1. Coloring Book
While we don’t recommend coloring while you teach, a few minutes with a colored pencil in hand right before or after school can be therapeutic. You could even use your lunch break if you’re feeling extra stressed. Coloring books come in all sorts of themes, like animals or space. You can even find one for most major fandoms if you love a particular series of books, movies or TV.
2. Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils is a great way to change your mood. The right blend can wake you up, make you sleepy, reduce your stress or help you focus. If you plan to diffuse oils in your classroom, you need to get the principal’s permission first. You should also check your desired blends against any students’ allergies. Some kids may be allergic to scents like lavender.
3. Tea Bags
Tea is a school-approved stress-relief drink — unlike certain other alternatives. It tastes delicious, comes in many forms and can even help your soar throat in the winter. If caffeine bothers you, try one of many tasty herbal teas. You’ll get the calming benefits of a warm drink without the stimulation.
4. Bubble Wrap
Channel your inner child with a piece of bubble wrap in your teacher stress relief kit. Keep a couple of different sizes on hand to cover various scenarios. You can play with a small scrap in your pocket while you walk around the classroom. Leave a large piece at your desk to play with while you grade or lesson plan. For a more sustainable option, pick up a popper — they’re still super popular and easy to find in many sizes, shapes and colors.
Chocolate can make any situation feel a bit better. Conventional advice might recommend dark chocolate for its well-researched health perks, but we say indulge in whatever square is your favorite. There’s something so satisfying about taking a moment to savor your favorite treat.
6. Motivational Book
Teaching through stress overload can lead to burnout and you trending toward those wanting to leave the profession. In these moments, remind yourself why you got into education in the first place. A motivational book in your kit lets you up your game by learning new trends in education.
7. A New Pack of Pens
Is there anything teachers love more than a fresh pack of pens? When you’re anxiety builds too high, grab your emergency pack and enjoy the sensation of pulling the plastic from the cardboard backing. Test the click. Revel in the colors. Watch as fresh ink pools as you write. OK, maybe that’s a bit intense, but you get the picture. We love pens!
8. A Great Playlist
The perfect playlist can gear you up or calm you down. Whatever you need in the moment, music will always have you covered. Create a playlist for each mood you might want to encourage in yourself or your students. Whip it out when you need it the most. To continue reaping the benefits, keep only your absolute favorites week to week but change the rest for a bit of variety.
Make One for You and One for a Friend
Things are much better when they’re shared. Use your teacher stress relief kit as a gift idea for your friends in education. Every teacher can use a little extra love these days. Customize each kit with personal touches each friend will love.