Back in March, 2021 I wrote an article Dance Teacher Burnout and How to Avoid It and where teachers from around the world revealed their feelings of being drained and demotivated. But here is a reminder to check on where you sit right now on the exhausted scale.
Many teachers will be returning to work after a short holiday, lock downs or prolonged periods of teaching remotely. Some will still be enjoying summer holidays or preparing to begin them. If this is a time of rest and recuperation allow time to assess your own personal well being.
If well being is addressed in workplaces, productivity is increased by 12%.
(Oswald et al, 2015)
Dance teachers want to make a difference in their schools and help students achieve their potential. However, it is difficult to achieve this if we are experiencing a lack of control.
Higher levels of accountability, increased workload, and changing policies in the education environment may result in teachers feeling underappreciated. This can result in loss in teaching and decision making confidence.
Teachers report feeling tearful at work, as they work well above their contracted hours, burdened by physical and mental stress.
Here are few thoughts that may be helpful when assessing how you are feeling right now. These ideas may help you to address some of the challenges of teaching dance in education settings.
The importance of self care for dance teachers
Self care is not just about going on holidays, to a Day Spa, or even taking 10 minutes to have a quiet cup of coffee. Though all these things are useful!
It’s about how we are mindful about observing ourselves during our crazy, busy lives. It’s about putting a focus on how we intend to treat and take care of ourselves.
This could be deciding to let people know when you need help.
Being aware of what you do when you feel bad and deciding if it’s helpful or not.
Knowing when to put your own needs before the needs of others.
Dance Teacher Burnout Busters
How you experience burnout is personal to you. Increasing demands on your time from within and outside the school environment may result in you having goals that are actually unachievable.
Ensure that what you are asking from yourself is actually ‘doable’.
As dancers we use our body as a vehicle of expression and emotion. This means we have to approach our well being from a physical, emotional and cognitive perspective.
Are your shoulders up around your ears? Notice the signs your body gives you when you are about to burn out. What has to change to take you through this feeling?
Be gentle on yourself. Trust that you will get through this time of stress. But take steps to adjust your work situation to meet your emotional and physical needs.
Put wonderful people in place who support you, either at home or at work. Talking to dance teachers really stressed to me the importance of making a plan for well being with your partner or significant family member or friend.
Everyone needs someone to say that you need to be kinder to yourself and less demanding on you. Everyone needs to be told that they are valued.
Establish a ‘trusted listener’, not a ‘rescuer’. You don’t need someone to solve your problems, just someone to listen. You’ve got this.
DO NOT isolate. Talk with people who are your community of support and let them know that you are feeling under pressure.
Celebrate your achievements. And not just your work ones, identify what is working well in your life rather than focusing on the challenges alone.
Giving a colleague, friend or partner a ‘congratulations, you’re doing a great job’, also acts to lift your spirits as well as theirs. Joining industry Facebook or other social media groups that are supportive, compassionate and helpful is also a way to avoid feeling like you’re doing it alone. Helping each other feels wonderful.
Be process driven not goal driven. Enjoying the pathway from each moment of joy to the next is a rewarding experience. The chaos of those busy times is seen as the challenge to be met, rather than to feel overwhelmed by it.
Entertain yourself through the process by doing what you love. Dance is a release in its creation and performance. So do it. Just avoid that dreaded perfectionism. Start recognizing and accepting the days where things just have to be ‘good enough’.
Positive actions for the end of a break from dance teaching.
Try writing some of these things down in a journal. I include photos, drawings, and pictures to lock positive and helpful ideas into my mind for when I’m visualizing. You can look at them during the term and look forward to doing them again.
What self care have you done during the break from teaching?
Make a list of things you would like to do next time you get a break?
What behaviours did you choose to promote?
When were you compassionate with yourself? Did you give yourself permission to slow down? How did you do this?
The important thing to remember is that one size does not fit all and there are many alternative ways to care for your self and to nurture well being in your everyday life.
The important thing is to start looking for what suits you. Play and experiment with what makes you feel good.
Keep in mind that if you are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed after a break from work, you should seek help from a health care professional.