Burnout. It's something most teachers will face at some point in their careers. While this career is rewarding, it is also demanding. If we are going to find fulfillment in our careers as educators, we need to know how to identify and avoid teacher burnout. Below are warning signs that may indicate we are on the path to burnout.
Many teachers have a naturally friendly personality which is helpful when interacting with families and students. When teachers start to notice their mood slipping and begin feeling irritable and angry instead of happy and excited, it may indicate they are becoming burned out.
Typically, this happens because career demands leave little time for self-care. When teachers can’t get enough sleep or aren’t eating healthy, they are going to suffer low moods and emotions. This can lead to a short temper or an overall feeling of irritability.
Loss of Desire to Socialize
Teachers who are burned out may not want to go to social gatherings. Outside of school, teachers may turn down invitations to social events and cut themselves off from the rest of the world when attempting to manage all that is on their plates. They may even need to take mental health days during the school year to regroup. If you notice yourself pulling away from social functions, you may be nearing the burnout stage.
Burnout can lead to complaints. If you notice in the conversations you have with colleagues 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 deeper.
Chronic Fatigue or Exhaustion
Low energy levels that hit on an emotional level can be attributed to teacher burnout. Many teachers go through tiring times, like the close of the semester or the start of conferences when they have a heavier load and are tired. But if fatigue and exhaustion have become chronic, leading to a dread of getting up and going to work, then it could be burnout.
On the other hand, some teachers will experience insomnia when they enter the burnout stage. If you're finding you cannot sleep, or stay asleep, you may have insomnia due to burnout. Sometimes insomnia and chronic fatigue are linked. You may find yourself fully and completely exhausted long before the end of the day, but when the time comes to sleep, you can't. Insomnia, especially when coupled with fatigue, is a sign of burnout.
Changes in Appetite
Teachers who are burned out may stop eating, or they may find themselves eating less healthy options. 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 headaches, stomachaches, heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath, occur when stress is overwhelming. Someone who has a sudden onslaught of these symptoms could be experiencing burnout or could be nearing the point of burnout.
Are you finding it difficult to pay attention to things that are important to you? Are 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 brain fog symptoms can be a sign of teacher burnout.
If you feel you are experiencing teacher burnout, or you notice some of these symptoms in one of your co-teachers, it's time to act. Building up resilience can ensure you get through challenging times. If you are struggling, Learners Edge offers courses in educator wellness and a free webinar all about self-awareness, self-care, support measures, fluff-eradication, efficient planning and effective community building.
Review our Educator Wellness category for courses about managing burnout and ways to refresh and recharge:
In the webinar, "Fireproof: Building Educator Resilience to Decrease Teacher Burnout," Keely Keller, Director of Professional Programs, shares her personal insights and proven strategies to assist teachers in building resilience. You can access the webinar now to learn more about what you can do to prevent burnout for yourself or your staff.