Burnout. It's something most teachers will face at some point in their careers. While this job is one of the most rewarding out there, it's also one of the most demanding. If you are going to find fulfillment in your career as a teacher, you are going to need to know how to identify and avoid, teacher burnout. Here are some warning signs that may indicate you're on the path to a burnout problem.
Feeling irritable and quick to anger
Most teachers have a naturally friendly personality. You have to if you are going to do well interacting with parents and students day in and day out. When you start to notice your mood slipping, feeling irritable and angry instead of happy and excited, it may indicate you're starting to get burned out.
Typically, this happens because the demands of the job leave little time for self-care. When you aren't getting enough sleep or eating healthy, you are going to suffer low moods and emotions. This leads to a quick temper and an overall feeling of irritability.
No desire to attend social gatherings
Teachers who are burnt out will not want to go to social gatherings. They stay in their classrooms on their lunch breaks rather than enjoying lunch with their colleagues. Outside of school, they turn down invitations when social events take place. The cut themselves off from the rest of the world as they try to manage all that is on their plates. They may even end up taking mental health days during the year to regroup and prepare to return to the classroom. If you notice yourself pulling away from social functions, you may be nearing the burnout stage.
Burnout often leads to complaints. If you are noticing that the few conversations you have with your fellow teachers are all about complaints, then you may need to take a closer look at your emotional health. While teachers often have legitimate complaints, an overall complaining attitude, with the feeling that nothing can fix the problem, can be due to something a little deeper.
Chronic fatigue or exhaustion
Low energy levels that hit on an emotional level can be attributed to teacher burnout. Sure, all teachers go through periods, like the close of the quarter or the start of parent/teacher conferences, when they have a heavier than normal load and are tired, but if the fatigue and exhaustion have become chronic, leading to a dread of getting up and going to work the next day, then it could be due to burnout.
On the other hand, some teachers will experience insomnia when they enter the burnout stage. If you're finding that you simply cannot sleep at night, or stay asleep, for more than a couple of nights per week, then you may have insomnia because of burnout. Sometimes insomnia and the chronic fatigue seem to be linked. You find yourself fully and completely exhausted long before the end of the day, but when the time comes to actually sleep, you can't. Insomnia, especially when coupled with fatigue, is a sure sign of burnout.
Change in appetite
Teachers who are burnt out may stop eating, or they may find themselves eating more or less healthy options than they normally do. Changes in appetite and eating are often attributed to stress, and burnout is one of the highest levels of stress there is.
Physical symptoms, like a headache, stomachache, heart palpitation, chest pain, dizziness or shortness of breath, occur when stress is overwhelming. Someone who has a sudden onslaught of these symptoms is likely experiencing teacher burnout or at least nearing the point of burnout.
Are you finding that it's difficult to pay attention to things that are normally important to you? Are your papers that need to be graded piling up, yet you simply can't seem to focus to get them done? Are you becoming increasingly forgetful? These types of mental symptoms and brain fog concerns are a sure sign of teacher burnout.
The solution to burnout
If you feel that you are facing teacher burnout, or you notice some of these symptoms in one of your co-teachers, it's time to take action. Building up resilience in yourself and the other teachers in your school will help you get through these challenging periods. If you are struggling, Learners Edge offers a free webinar that will help you learn self-awareness, self-care, support measures, fluff-eradication, efficient planning and effective community building. In the webinar entitled "Fireproof: Building Educator Resilience to Decrease Teacher Burnout," Keely Swartzer, director of professional development, will share her personal insights and proven strategies to help teachers build this type of resilience. Access the webinar now, and learn what you can do to prevent burnout for yourself or your staff, or cure it if you're already there.