Blog Series

Back-to-School Self Care Part 2: Managing Your Energy

by Cortnie Gurren on Sep 11, 2019

  • Back to School
  • Self-Care

The school year is in full swing. As a teacher, you are buried in beginning-of-the year assessments, analyzing initial data, and planning for your small groups.  

Administrators are busy with deadlines of their own, ensuring personnel and curriculum needs are being met.

While excited for all new things, you are already feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Let’s stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and reflect on our vision for the year ahead.

Let’s begin by being mindful of your Personal Vision, otherwise known as our “why.” Jot that down. Now, reflect on your Work Vision for the current school year. Make note of that.

As we focus on the four pillars of energy, you may want to refer back to your visions to ensure you are not forgetting about the most important thing, YOU!

In Part 1 of this blog, we spoke about the four sources of energy, Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual, as noted in The Power of Full Engagement, written by Loehr, J. & Schwartz, T. (2005).

Let’s take a deeper look into what Loehr & Schwartz share about physical and emotional sources and discuss strategies about how to balance each of these types of energy to become fully engaged.

  1. Physical: When we look into the physical aspect of energy, we measure this in terms of low to high. When we are in the realm of high physical energy, we may feel invigorated, strong, and energized. While in low states of physical energy, we may feel exhausted and burned out. Striving to be on the higher side of this energy is the goal. In the field of education, managing physical energy is going to lead to alertness, concentration, thinking creatively, and maintaining your commitment to completion of the task at hand. Look around your classroom, office, school building: How many times a day are you needing your physical energy at the higher level to be successful with what you are teaching or trying to achieve? Thinking of all the transitions that occur in the school day, I imagine your answer is at least five. So, now, the burning question: How do you sustain this type of energy? While there is no easy answer, it will take slight changes and consistency.

    • Breathing—Practice breathing exercises. Inhale for three counts, hold for four counts, and extend the exhalation to six counts. This will awaken your mind and get the oxygen flowing.

    • Food—Be strategic in your meals. Have healthy snacks available to eat throughout the day. The important point here is to ensure you do not reach the point of starvation, but you are fueling your body appropriately.

    • Sleep—This is the most important recovery method. If you lack adequate sleep, you will have decreased energy and concentration. The longer and later you work at night, the more errors will occur, thus causing more problems. Give yourself a shutdown time, where work is no longer an option. Create a ritual that works for you with waking, breaks, and sleep times.

  2. Emotional: Unlike physical energy, emotional energy is measured from negative to positive. We all have days where our emotional wellbeing may be lower than others, but what we strive for is a higher level of positivity overall. When we have emotions that arise from sadness, fear, or anger, this inhibits our abilities inside and outside the workplace. When our emotional energy is off, it also impacts our physical energy. These two sources of energies are connected. In the moments of feeling down, take time to stop and acknowledge the root of those feelings. Is there something specific you can attribute this to? What action can be changed to correct that feeling and move it to a more positive emotion? In that moment, are you able to change your mindset and find a sense of renewal? This all takes self-control and regulation. The same two things we try to model and teach our students. Engage in things that you find joy in. Don’t wait until the weekend or holiday break to partake in them. Work this into your shut-down time previously discussed. When you shut down the workday, choose an activity you find pleasureful. Creating this work-life balance will make you breathe better, sleep better, and fall into the high physical, positive emotional energy realm.

Enjoy the school year, smile daily, and remember your “why.”

For more information and to read more about the remaining two sources of energy, pick up a copy of The Power of Full Engagement, written by Loehr, J. & Schwartz, T. (2005).

About the Author

Cortnie Gurren has worked in special education for more than a decade, beginning her teaching career with Clark County School District in Las Vegas, NV. She joined Voyager Sopris Learning® four years ago as an implementation specialist, before moving into a sales role. She continues to share her passion for student and teacher success by ensuring both teachers and students are equipped with the necessary solutions to be successful. She is honored to still be a part of helping students achieve their goals and realize anything is possible. Cortnie is a “bonus” mom and resides in Colorado with her husband and 17-year-old step-daughter. As of late, she is spending her free time preparing her daughter for college. As Cortnie says, “Life is a continuous journey.”

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