How Do You Spell Relief?
By Charles Sosnik
Sometimes, you just need to let it all go.
I’m not suggesting that you give up. I’m just saying that when the stress builds to a boiling point, you stop, take a breath, and allow the stress to dissipate. And it will if you allow it to. The important point to understand is that you don’t have to carry it with you.
Even if you simply set it down, you can always come back and pick it up later.
If you don’t, it can become terribly heavy. I’ve seen stress kill. I’ve seen colleagues (and loved ones) carry the weight of their worries everywhere they went. And as it became heavier, they became recluses, afraid to go out for the weight they were forced to carry with them. It was sad. And it didn’t have to happen.
The times in which we live
We live in a time of unusual stressors, both in number and complexity. I am especially concerned for our education leaders, our school and district leaders that have been carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders for two and a half years now.
More specifically, they have been carrying the weight of their students, their teachers, their technology staffs, their bus drivers, their parents and even the weight of the media and public opinion. And knowing all along, that one wrong step could cause them to drop the weight, and the whole thing could come crashing down upon their heads.
To our administrative leaders, allow me to ask:
When was the last time you took a breath? When was the last time you set it all down, and didn’t worry about everything? When was the last time you had fun? When was the last time you did something just for you? How long as it been since you were happy? Since you actually smiled?
That is a heavy load you are carrying. Now, set it down. And take two big steps away. Don’t look at it. Don’t think about it. How does that feel?
Okay, grab your worries. Hoist them back on your shoulders. But remember, you can put them down. At lunch today, put them down and don’t pick them back up for an hour. And when you go home today, set them down on your front porch and leave them there all night. That’s right. Go an entire evening without thinking about your worries. And if you find yourself starting to think about your worries, change the subject in your mind. If you are married, talk to your partner about his or her day. If you have children in the home, talk to them. Ask about their interests. What are they into now? Do you even know anymore?
No need to panic: Help is here
And remember. There is no need to panic. You left your worries carefully stacked on the front porch. I promise they will be there waiting for you in the morning.
Wasn’t it nice talking to your spouse? To your kids? Wasn’t it nice not to have a worry in the world, even for an evening?
Now that you have a safety valve for your stress, perhaps the Learning Counsel can help you with some of your long-term challenges. Our organization is doing some very interesting things to help take the pressure off in the areas of teacher shortfalls and student attrition. These are long-term solutions to some of your most vexing challenges. And once you have solutions in place for some of your most weighty problems, there is a good chance the others won’t be as hard to carry.
And if they become too heavy to carry again, remember you can always put them down and take a breather.
Heck, I heard of one administrator who actually put his problems aside for nearly a week, took a trip with his family and remembered why he loved his wife so much. Sounds crazy, I know. But wonderful things still happen.
To receive the Learning Counsel’s help, I suggest contacting our Chief Academic Officer, Chris McMurray. Drop him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I have known Chris for some time now. He is easy to talk to and smart as the day is long, and he has access to amazing research and tools – and his job is helping schools and districts. Seriously. His job is to help you. And he is very good at his job.
Just Remember. You have options, and you don’t have to carry the weight forever. Sometimes, it makes more sense just to drop it for a bit. And in reality, not only will you be happier, but the work will actually get done quicker.
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.