Ben Kissam is a writer, standup comedian, coach, and former middle school teacher. His blog, coachk.co, offers satirical advice for self-improvement and achievement.
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Sunday night anxiety: it's a real thing.
Ask any teacher—right around 4 p.m. on Sunday, the 36-hour amnesia wears off. You remember that tomorrow's exit ticket still needs to be written, Tuesday's lesson plan doesn't technically exist yet, and you have to answer the, uh, inquisitive email Jack's mom sent Friday at 6 p.m. that you pretended not to read.
Further Reading: 6 Strategies to Relieve Teacher Anxiety
How can teachers cope with end-of-the-weekend anxiety? Here are five practical tips you can implement right away.
There's an endless supply of things to be anxious about as a teacher. Literally. If you look for things to stress about, you'll find them in heaps.
One way to alleviate Sunday night anxiety is to decide what deserves your attention.
Consider using the Eisenhower matrix. As Forbes outlines, this technique breaks tasks down into four categories:
The Eisenhower matrix helps you see what deserves your time right now and (hopefully) eliminates any anxiety about projects that belong in a land far, far away.
So don't sweat next month's unit plan. That's a problem for Future You—and you're going to nail it when the time comes.
Let's be honest: students aren't the only ones scurrying out of the schoolhouse on Friday afternoon. Teachers are ready to sprint out of there, too. There's no sweeter feeling than when that final bell rings and you're free for the weekend.
But Friday afternoon is also the perfect time to mitigate your Sunday night anxiety. It just takes a little discipline. Instead of doing your best Forrest Gump impersonation and running straight out of the building, stay an extra hour and prep everything for Monday. It's an easy fix—if you can commit to it.
And, on the plus side, staying an extra hour means that you won't fight the parking lot traffic jam preventing you from escaping.
Unfortunately, the corporate world is slightly ahead of education in terms of prioritizing self-care, Forbes says. Some teachers—and administrations—believe that teaching is a hard job, and sometimes you've just got to put up with some, uh, unpleasant stuff to make it.
No one's disputing the challenges of education, but the truth is, you—yes, you—must take care of yourself outside of school hours. Things such as work-life balance, exercising, and eating well during the week can go a long way toward easing the anxiety you might feel on Sunday night.
A little anxiety is normal from time to time, but accepting anxiety as a constant in your professional life is a choice. Prioritize good self-care habits to help keep anxiety at bay.
Ever notice how your colleague Anne, a 22-year veteran at your school, walks into school cool as a cucumber every Monday morning? Yeah, she probably looks like that on Sunday nights, too.
Anne was like you once, you know. She, too, would get anxious about lesson plans and tell her partner that Jack's mom should probably find a new hobby besides emailing her.
But she eventually learned the hidden truth about teaching: teaching is a job. And even though you're a teacher, you're a human first.
Now it'd be silly—rude, even—to suggest teaching is just like any other job. It's not. But to stay in this profession long-term, you've got to set boundaries. You can't be on 24/7 and do your job effectively.
Be like Anne—starting now. Find the off switch. Be on when you're at work, and off when you're not.
And, hey, accentuate the positives. Mondays don't have to be a drag. It's a new week. You've got a job with a salary, health insurance, and, in all likelihood, some rad co-workers that make the hard parts a little easier.
All things considered, you've got it pretty good. A little perspective can't hurt.
No matter what happened last week, or how you're feeling about teaching in general, find joy in your work. As easy as it is to find things to stress about, it's just as easy to find things to be joyful about. You've just got to know where to look.
We need people like you to be thinking—sometimes even worrying—about our kids. But we also need our educators to be their best selves, too. Every teacher gets a bit of Sunday night anxiety from time to time, but end-of-the-weekend jitters shouldn't be a weekly occurrence, either.
Further Reading: 5 Things a Stressed Teacher Thinks About Before Bed
Make an effort to put the right systems and habits in place and adopt the right mindset. Because when you do, guess what? It becomes someone else's job to worry about Monday's problems: Future You.
And we're sure that when the time comes, you're going to nail it.