Take a quick peek at social media on a Sunday evening and you are bound to come across an education-related meme referencing the “Sunday Night Blues”. You may have even posted one yourself. You’re familiar with that sinking feeling; the one that comes over you when you start thinking about the week ahead; the dread, the anxious feelings, the overwhelm…that feeling like you just want to stay under your covers and curl up with a good book instead of facing what lies ahead.
This is a symptom of Burnout. Burnout can be a serious matter, leaving you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and even anxious. It can lead to sleepless nights, feeling ineffective, and a sense of loss of love for the profession you have poured your heart and soul into.
According to the Gallup Panel Workforce Study, 44% of k-12 workers said they "always" or "very often" feel burned out at work. This outpaces all other industries nationally.
Consequently, educators are leaving the field in droves. The National Education Association reports that 55% of educators are planning on leaving the profession earlier than anticipated. These are alarming statistics.
Systemic change is clearly needed to revitalize the passion for entering and staying in the field of education and addressing the high levels of burnout, but that takes time. So what can you do about it now?
Emotional Freedom Techniques
Fortunately, there is a set of stress-management tools that can significantly reduce symptoms of burnout. It’s called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which is more commonly referred to as Tapping because we tap gently on particular acupressure points as part of the process.
Over 275 studies, review articles, and meta-analyses have been published in professional, peer-reviewed journals, and the list is growing. EFT has been shown to be effective in reducing levels of cortisol, anxiety, depression, PTSD symptoms, and food cravings.
Beyond its effectiveness, one of the best attributes is that these techniques can be self-applied within a matter of minutes.
Consider these three ways to incorporate EFT into your day to help reduce your symptoms of burnout:
1. On your drive into school. I loved using EFT on my morning car ride. It was quiet, I was alone, and I could use the time to help regulate my nervous system prior to entering the building. Things happen in the morning from time to time that leave you feeling dysregulated. Perhaps you got into an argument with your spouse or you didn’t sleep well the night before. Sometimes just anticipating what is coming during the day can be enough to create some anxious feelings. This would be a good time to just do some silent tapping. Tap on the points starting at the top of your head and working your way down to the under arm point. Continue to do as many rounds as needed. Perhaps listen to your favorite song while you are tapping. It can help you feel calmer walking in the door. (One note of caution, using the Standard Protocol while driving is not recommended.)
2. During your school day. There are so many unpredictable variables that can impact your day at school: that email that questioned your integrity as a teacher; the child whose beloved pet just died; learning that you have to cover someone’s class during your planning period; the child that is melting down under their desk and refusing to come out; barely having time to use the restroom; that darn copy machine. This is just the tip of the iceberg. You may not have time during the day to do a full round or two of tapping, so simply tapping on the acupressure points and taking a comfortable breath at each spot can help calm your nervous system. You may consider doing a quick round of tapping and breathing before eating lunch. It can help you slow down enough in that moment to take care of yourself.
3. After your school day. This is the time to tap on something that has stayed with you from your day. Check in with yourself and see what’s there. Be specific. Choose one thing from your day that is lingering. What happened? How are you feeling about it now? Do you notice that emotion showing up in your body? Rate the emotion on a scale of 0-10. After doing a round of tapping, reassess the emotional intensity. If it is still elevated, do another round.
Burnout can take quite some time to develop, but there are simple steps you can take now to support your own emotional well-being.
Kathleen Weber is a former School Counsellor who now specializes in supporting educators experiencing overwhelm and burnout so they can freely choose to return to the classroom from a centered and compassionate place or find another path that aligns with their higher purpose. Kathleen also trains educators to use EFT for self-care and with their students. She has loved helping others for as long as she can remember and sees EFT as a beautiful and gentle process to facilitate meaningful change. Kathleen places high value on safety and rapport. She believes building a level of trust is imperative to this process and she thoroughly enjoys holding an empathetic space to meet her clients where they are.