Firstly, overwhelm is not caused by something external to you.
Secondly, the common thread
is you and your thinking is fluctuating and transient.
Thirdly, what have you grown to believe about worry and anxiety and how the body lets you know your thinking is often focusing away from love, joy, passion for what you love to do and to be.
When you are new to a role, new to teaching, or it’s a new week, you often have expectations of
yourself, your colleagues, the children. And they jostle for attention inside your head.
You are in the early stages of alertness, or ‘trying to’.
Trying to be the person you expect.
Trying to do the things others ’might’ expect of you.
Expecting things to go as planned - and they don’t, yet you try to carry on as if everything was just tickety- boo OK.
And the body’s very own, and very well- designed alarm system aka stress, begins to build. You know this, because you can feel it.
At this stage that giant house of cards, called ‘trying to’ or that huge list of expectations, begins to wobble. What might occur next is entirely up to you.
I know there are days when I feel so organised, I could rule the universe and yet on others I feel a slight panic or more.
Let me tell you a story about a child who panicked every time a door closed - not good in a school full of doors. She was fine with the window open, even if it could not provide a safe exit. When we worked, we kept the door open and the child (Sarah for anonymity) flowed in and out of the open space beyond the classroom, to work without her anxiety building. Sarah had loved being tucked up as a baby, she even liked the darkness of sleep time and her bedroom door closed when she was a toddler. So, what had changed?
Back to the school holiday.
Would it be fair to say that you are the same person who laughed, adventured, relaxed and pottered around your home - perhaps even singing (badly in my case)? Yes? Then who is the person standing teaching or leading the school and feeling some overwhelm? Would it be fair to say it's still you?
I wonder what the 'performance variable' is between holiday mode and panic or overwhelm?
Sarah is the same person as the toddler – only with more thinking.
You are that very same person, on holiday, or in work.
Firstly, overwhelm it is not something external to you.
as I said earlier, your body’s stress alarm is designed around your perception. Your thinking alert’s the body neatly
And the body’s very own, and very well-designed alarm system aka stress mechanism, begins to build. You know this, because you can feel it.
At this stage that giant house of cards, called ‘trying to’ or that huge list of expectations, begins to wobble.
The GOOD news is that you are in charge. Nothing external is driving you, not time, students, or anything other than your building up thought around them.
What might occur next is entirely up to you. (I take a different thinking focus here- seconds off will break the worry)
Secondly the common thread or reason for human overwhelm is that your thinking fluctuates, all humans have up and down thinking – usually when we are not aligned with our unconditional self. (Like the young pupil, Sarah.)
Thirdly, like Sarah and most of us, what have you grown to believe about worry and anxiety is created by those beliefs (often taught whilst young). When Sarah was young, she was accidentally trapped in a lift – saw the doors closing and her Mum disappearing. 11 years on she held onto that fear because she thought it was the lift, not her fear thinking. That same scary (unconditional) thinking restricted her, impacted her learning and her view of life/ Until she understood this:
The body lets you know that the way you are thinking is becoming resistant. Focusing away from love, joy, passion for what you love to do and to be. It raises a physical alarm. You press the buzzer!
You are in charge. Here's why . . .
This second story is about a teacher in his first full time role.
“It was my role as pastoral lead, to mentor NQT's. so her I am:
Slowly and cautiously I opened the classroom door and was immediately concerned. It was obvious that a bevy of stormtroopers had played in there overnight. Leaving a horrific mess of papers and upturned furniture, with obscene scribbling on the whiteboard.
I knew how it was to be brand new, and I was doing my utmost to support this man. It dawned on me, this teacher was quite obviously struggling. He had lived in this chaotic room for over a week, promising himself he would get to grips with it. I think it was gripping him.
It floods through the body with stealth and heats through your insides until upon reaching your head, it plays the kettle drum resoundingly loudly.
Overwhelm is the feeling when you think you have used every idea to placate that set of kids; used every idea to plan lessons simply; used every brain cell you have to teach struggling students and faced the final set of irate parents with their clipboard list of complaints. And still the worries and what if I could be better thoughts, pile into the scrum.
There are no expectations of you ( you passed the interview; you are good enough) notice when you add to your expectations and shake your head saying no thank you to yourself.
There is no ‘list’ of what others expect of you, they are happy for you to do your job and are busy doing theirs.
Schools, classrooms, offices are collections of people thinking their own way through the day. We all fluctuate in that thinking, like moving along a board game, sometimes going up the ladder or often down the snake.
Have compassion for you - bucket loads of it, for that is THE VERY BEST model to share to students and colleagues.
Teach with compassion at your own centre first.
Be at ease teacher of life, at ease.
More resources to support you here www.hlsgroup.net
Plus, my eBook or paperback is all about managing stress and overwhelm