Monday, March 14, 2016

Taking Steps Forward

I clearly have had a lapse in posting on this blog. That's a true statement. If I could summarize where I have been or what I have been doing I would state that I have simply been a busy high school band director for a vibrant and growing program in the San Jose Bay Area.

The other part of that story is that I have become the victim of something that happens to many many people in this profession and causes many to leave (including many people who have specifically had MY job) and that guessed it.... B U R N O U T!

It took me a while to recognize it and I think that recognizing the problem, like "they" say, is the first step in solving the problem. I have been having work/life balance problems my whole career but as my life is continuing to move forward and I'm continuing to "adult" (and advance in age), having a better work/life balance is critical. I'm also NOT getting any younger (I'm 35) and this is my 13th year of teaching, so I have been at this awhile.

It hit me in January in the middle of a challenging time I was having with my some of my students. I just found myself saying it out loud to a friend "I'm just burned out" and I'm not in a good place. And that's exactly what I am. Except I'm in a better place about it now....I am taking steps forward.

"Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place." -Google

Now here's some things that are true. I'm exhausted. I can't tell you how many times I have caught myself saying "I'm getting too old for this." Now I know that I'm not "old" and that I have a "long way to go" but hey I need to start slowing down none the less! I'll be old soon enough.

Is this excessive and or prolonged stress? Yes. I have been stressed for all 13 years I have been teaching with very short times where I'm probably not stressed. But ever since April of last year things haven't been "stable" in my program and so it has been a prolonged stress.

Now here's something important. I have NOT lost my interest or motivation that led me here. And that's because I'm still VERY inspired by the music and I'm VERY inspired to make music with these awesome students.

So I'm going into "band director recovery" of sorts. I'm working on trying to force myself to come home. To ask others for more help. To organize my booster club budget to fund positions for people to help me. I'm trying to make a calendar for next year that gives me time off.  A schedule that allows me to do something else or play music somewhere else. I'm going to band director camp this summer and I'm trying to Love Myself and honor my personal time more.

Because I don't want to be burned out. I also really like my job. Teaching and band directing have a high burnout rate. I know that I'm not going to teach high school or be at this school forever but I do know that there is a chance as a I get farther along in my career that if I am going to do something different in this profession or professionally. These might be some of the last years at my current job and I do want to make the most of it. I just can't keep running at the pace I'm running at now.

I'm not sure how this story will end or when it will get better but I will keep you posted. I do know that burnout is different for each person. Its finally happening to me. My band program has continued to grow and expand. I have been on a variety of volunteer boards for various music organizations and running or working at summer camps (or both). With my growing program at ST and some transitions there its just been a lot on my plate, especially when there is only one band director at my school for the size of the program that we have.

So for my therapy for burnout today I will list the things that I am doing TODAY to take better care of myself.
#1-I slept in.
#2-Easy lesson plans
#3-Done by 3pm
#4-Afternoon workout
#5-Packed all meals today/Dinner in the crockpot
#6-Time to color in my coloring books, listen to music etc.
#7-Watch House of Cards/hang out at home

Are you over scheduled like me? Overworked? Pick a few things that you can do this week for self care. Find a few ways to take better care of yourself each week.

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