Burnout Buster Series Part 1: Anchor Thoughts

kindergarten, first grade, second grade, primary, teacher, teaching, burnout, strategies, retire, how to get rid of burnout, anchor thoughts, motivation, Teacher Toni

Well hi there, my beautiful sweet teacher friend. I was gone for just a bit, but I feel rested, relaxed and so ready to pep talk you, my friend into your best teacher year ever. So get ready to bust burnout with anchor thoughts!

If you’re new here, you should know that I have an almost alarming love and adoration for primary teachers. I think you, and me too, of course, because I’m still here doing it with you, are the unsung heroes of the earth. 

We are the folks embedding children with foundations of hope, knowledge and all those aspirations that will follow them through their lives. No one on the planet is more impactful, because what you learn as a child sticks with you for life. That is the very reason I work so hard to help teachers find joy in their careers so that they can deepen that impact and be the amazing teacher they always hope to be. 

Resolve to Have an Impactful Year

This is the perfect time to resolve to have an exciting, impactful, joyful rest of our school year. I have seen a horrible, toxic environment online. I’m in different teacher groups and the negativity around teaching is at an all time high. I really cannot stand to read some of it. Talented, passionate teachers are leaving a profession that could be so rewarding, so impactful and so joyful. There is only one culprit to all this. One nasty joy-stealing enemy that is after us all.

I’ll tell you what it isn’t. It isn’t the paperwork. It isn’t the extra responsibilities. The new curriculums, the time it takes to prepare, it isn’t even a jerk principal or administrator who is totally oblivious to your needs. 

Our Enemy: Burnout

The enemy that we need to be watching for is burnout. That word, it literally haunts me. I hear it constantly, and I have felt it over and over. Burnout is real. And it shakes us at our core and makes us forget what we are even doing here. So for today’s episode, and the next few weeks, I’m taking on this problem. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, maybe you’re on the verge of burnout or have already lit the match to set it all on fire. I really believe this series can help you get refocused and may reignite your hope, your dedication and your energy for teaching. 

Maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe you’re feeling great about your career, or for now you have everything under control. Well, my friend, I encourage you to go through this process with me too, because learning to identify and beat burnout when you are calm and focused is an awesome opportunity to overcome it before it ever overcomes you. 

Before we get going, let me take this moment to encourage you to share this series with a teacher that you know who may need it. Sometimes we have all these great tools in our arsenal and we never think to share them with those who are struggling. But guess what, just by sharing and helping another you’re going to feel uplifted and more joyful immediately. 

What is Burnout?

Burnout is defined as exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. The key here is to realize where burnout hits you. It can affect your physical strength, your emotional strength, or that big word, motivation, or maybe even a combination of all three for you. 

When working with clients through private coaching, I’ve had the opportunity to help teachers identify and overcome burnout. And here are some of the feelings we’ve uncovered that are directly related symptoms of this. Tightness, tiredness, lack of focus, unmotivated, stress, pressure, a feeling of shrinking, anxiety, mental block, worry, frantic, overwhelm, I hear these feelings time and again. 

Of course, we all go through these things from time to time as a natural response to stress. But burnout, as I defined before, is the result of prolonged feelings. You feel these things way too much, and for way too long. One thing that really helps me to understand burnout, especially when I’m working with other teachers through coaching, is thinking of the other definition of burnout, which is directly related to a rocket engine. 

Burnout is Like a Jet…

Think of a jet flying through the sky. Their speed is amazing. But what we might not think about is that sometimes their engines fail. It takes a lot of fuel to keep those jets running properly, safely and securely. And when they’ve spent every ounce of that energy, they burn out. Think of teacher burnout like this. It is a path of feelings that ends at a drop off. It is a path of feelings that ends at a drop off, a pit of quicksand, and it feels perpetually hopeless. And really, you’re not sure you can dig yourself out of it. 

That is what burnout is. And this is why so many teachers leave. Maybe you’ve been close to that drop off. Maybe you’re hanging on the edge just by thread, or maybe my sweet friend, you’re at the bottom of the pit, and you’re looking up wondering how in the world am I going to overcome this?

Let Me Be Your Burnout Buster

I feel you my friend, I’ve been where you are and I’m here to offer you help. I’m here to tell you, you do not have to leave a career that once lit you up, that gave you energy and passion. I will always be proud to say I am proof that burnout does not mean the end of a passionate, loving teacher. You don’t have to leave years of dedication, your retirement fund, or your love for children behind to feel normal, and to feel like you can actually go on. 

Let me be your burnout buster. Let me be what the Ghostbusters are for those people who have a haunted house. Okay, but what haunts you is burnout, and I’m gonna bust it for you. Let me help you step away from that drop off, refuel your engine so you can keep flying and beaming through this career. 

Now that we’ve identified burnout, let me help you find an anchor in these hard times. Think about what an anchor does for a ship inside of a horrible storm. It helps it stay in place until the storm passes and the beautiful sunshine can peek through.You can combat this, my friend with an anchor thought. An anchor thought can help you silence that overwhelming feeling that teaching isn’t right for you. 

Set Up Anchor Thoughts

So I’m not going to go into too much detail. But this is a strategy that I use with my coaching clients. First, let me tell you what an anchor thought is. Never believe that life isn’t stormy. No matter what career you choose, there’s going to be storms. Anything worth pursuing is hard.

Your brain is overwhelmed. It is producing all of these thoughts that are in turn creating feelings of hopelessness, of being lost and unable to focus. Your thoughts are what produce your feelings. And believe it or not, if you haven’t ever practiced this, you can control your thoughts. So an anchor thought is what you come back to, what you purposefully think, when you realize things are getting hard. An anchor thought is a replacement to a negative thought that can help you take control of your feelings, and therefore your actions and the results that you’re seeing. 

Examples of Anchor Thoughts

As I said, my coaching clients understand this process. And it’s a little more in depth than I’m allowing it to be here. But I want to get to those anchor thoughts that you can use. So when you’re feeling like this isn’t for me, I can’t go on, this is too much. I’m completely overwhelmed, replace it with this. 

Children need me now more than ever.

Teacher, we are coming off of a worldwide pandemic where everything changed in an instant. And children were deeply affected by this. I’ve heard it again and again that hey, kids are resilient. Kids can overcome. And yes, I do believe that. But I also know they need their teachers, more than ever. They need the comfort and routine of someone who is joyful and who loves them, and who has their best interests at heart.

I have used that very thought this year in my hard times. So I know that it is possibly the answer for you, too.

Another Example of Anchor Thoughts

And anchor thought number two that I want you to realize and to sit with and meditate on is this.

I’ve overcome harder times than this. 

Burnout warps our brain. Those thoughts take control. And we feel like this is the end, this is the worst it’s ever been. But don’t forget that most of you that are listening, we lived through one of the hardest times teachers ever faced, and that is through the virtual year. 

And of course these times feel hard. There’s a lot going on socially, economically, politically in our country, but we are the hope for our students. And boy have we seen harder times than this. So those are two anchor thoughts that helped me at times, but I want you to consider creating your own anchor thought. It could be anything that helps to ground you. 

Anchor Thought From a Coaching Client

So I’ll give you an example of one of my clients, who I will not name for privacy reasons, but she was facing burnout, which is why she reached out to me for my services. I was so glad she did. Because her problems seemed so large to her, so much that she was ready to retire this year. So thankfully, she reached out for support and teacher if you need support, it doesn’t have to be coaching. Phone a friend, find someone who will uplift you in these times. This is not the end for you. You have more passion and love to share.

So we worked through her thoughts and feelings, her results, her actions. And what we found was this horrible negative thought that was eating her alive. That thought was, there is no way I can finish out this year. It’s too hard. The behaviors in my classroom are too much for me to handle. These other relationships going on here at work are taking me under, there’s no way I can overcome this. 

How it’s Going

And that thought was giving her tightness and stress and horrible, horrible pain that led her to believe that this was her last year, even though she planned to work many more. Thankfully, she reached out. And we’ve resolved a lot of that. And here is an anchor thought that she created through my guidance that she comes back to. 

I have the love, the knowledge, the experience, and the motivation to figure this out. 

That’s it. So when she was in her classroom facing those hard times, she would pull that negative thought out and replace it with her anchor thought. And she no longer plans to leave this year. I’m still working with her every week. And I love it. We’ve seen big results. And I’m so proud of you. I know if you’re listening, you know this episode is a big shout out to you. 

Get Ready to Bust Burnout With Your Anchor Thoughts

So use one of my anchor thoughts or create your own. But whatever the case, teacher, let’s hang in there. Let’s keep this race going. Let’s keep this jet flying through the air. This is not the time for you to leave. Children need you in 2022. And that wraps up our very first episode of the burnout busters series. If this hits you in the heart, make sure to take time next week to join me because we are going to go on an adventure that will have an even greater destination. 

I am going to give you the top secret, the number one strategy that you can use to overcome these feelings of burnout. I want you to stay with me in this teacher, I’m not going to let you go. Also, I’ll tell you that I have a pretty big secret. Not one of those happy, I’m so excited to tell you, secrets. But one of those secrets that I think will hurt to say but will be very motivating to you. So join me next week for episode number two in the series and I cannot wait to join you there. 

So until we meet again, go make a difference, teacher friend.

XOXOXO

Toni

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