Third Step to Managing Stress [Part 3 of 7]

Get the Sleep Your Body Needs to Function Properly

I am offering this series on managing stress for teachers and busy professionals. Stress is a concern for many people and throughout the year. But it is especially troublesome during the holiday season. We become over-busy during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have way too many things on our to-do lists.
 
In the series so far, I have covered the importance of staying hydrated (Part 1). And I covered eating well for good health (Part 2). Today I want to cover sleep.

 
Sleep may be the most undervalued and underrated of all the healthy habits you need. Too many people underestimate how sleep (or lack of sleep) impacts their health and well-being. It is also undervalued and underrated as it pertains to how you manage your stress.
 
Many people are unaware of how much sleep they need for good health. They attempt, instead, to get by on the sleep they can get instead of what they need.
 
If you are a parent, you appreciate the value of sleep in your children. Children who get the sleep they need perform better in school. They are well adjusted, and practice better impulse control. We all recognize a toddler or pre-schooler who has missed their nap for the day. They are cranky, whiny, and miserable. What makes us think that as adults we are immune to those symptoms when we go without the sleep we need?
 
If you aren’t sure how much sleep you need for good health, consider this. The average adult needs 6 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Because this is an average, some people can go with less, and some need a little more. The key is to strike the sweet spot for yourself so that you are your most productive and happiest.
 
Sleep is not something you can defer and delay and catch up on during the weekend, either. It doesn’t work that way. You need a routine that includes an adequate amount of sleep every single night.
 
In case you are thinking that it is no big deal if you are functioning on less than the sleep you need, think again. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers some startling statistics about drowsy driving. A 2013 study estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes. 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths that year. As if that isn’t bad enough. That same agency suspects that it is under-reporting the actual statistic.
 
Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
 
And driving is only part of the problem. In another study, over 40% of Americans admit that they feel sleepy during the day a few day every month. One out of five (20%) reported feeling some level of daytime sleepiness a few days or more per week. Over 51% reported that sleepiness had interfered with the amount of work they were able to complete in a day.
 
Some of this sleepiness is the result of poor sleep habits and hygiene at night. These habits interfere with the amount of sleep you get. And they impact the quality of the sleep you get.
 
As a result, you are likely to experience one or more of these conditions:
 
  • Increased irritability
  • Feelings of anxiety and even depression
  • A decreased ability to concentrate and understand information
  • A suppressed immune system
  • And undesirable weight-gain since sleeplessness and/or sleep interruption which interferes with
  • The hormone production that your body requires to regulate a healthy weight
Are you convinced yet that sleep is an issue that merits serious attention? You may be wondering at this point what you can do to improve the odds of your getting a more restful sleep. Thankfully, there are many possible steps for you to consider. For example, start with your habits around bedtime.
 
Do you have an established bedtime routine? Or, are you too tired to drag yourself off to bed, so you continue to sit in front of the TV until the wee hours of the night? If you fall into the latter category, you may need to change up your night-time routine. If you are staying up late to watch TV or surf the Internet, turn off the electronic devices. Put them away. Read a book or magazine instead.
Studies show that reading from electronic devices causes your brain to think that it is still daytime. As a result, your brain will resist the idea of going to sleep even though your body may be tired. Read a book for a change. Avoid electronic devices for the hour before you want to go to sleep.
Other practical suggestions for improving your sleep include:

  • Take a warm bath or relaxing shower before bedtime
  • Avoid strenuous exercise right before going to bed
  • Drink herbal tea or a warm glass of milk before going to bed
  • If you have a television in the bedroom, turn it off before trying to go to sleep. Consider removing it to another room. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary where you go to relax and rest.
  • If you have a desk with your computer or piles of work in your bedroom, move it out. Your bedroom should be separate and apart from anything related to your work.
  • Strive to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal late in the evening—move your dinner hour up if you need to.
  • Avoid anything with caffeine afternoon every day. And avoid drinking alcohol in the evening. Caffeine and alcohol both tend to stimulate the brain. Both substances can cause you to either have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.
  • If you are a pre- or perimenopausal woman, consider talking to your doctor about your sleep issues. Hormone fluctuations can have a significant effect on your ability to sleep well.
 
Sleep is an absolute necessity. Too many of us are struggling through our days feeling groggy, and grumpy. We feel out of sorts because we have not gotten the sleep we need to function. Going without adequate sleep can create hormone imbalances, too. These imbalances can lead to feelings of listlessness. They can contribute to weight gain and even depression.
 
Don’t ignore this critical aspect of your daily life. There is a reason you get sleepy during the day—it is because you need to sleep! Make time for it like you would make time for other life-enhancing experiences. You will be glad you did.

[Case Study] Meet Angie Crockwell, a Teacher Who Found Her Passion Again

Meet Angie Crockwell, a music teacher who came to me for help with her job search early in 2017. She was on a sabbatical from her job as an elementary school band teacher when she found me and reached out to me for assistance with her job search.

In spite of her passion for music, Angie had gotten burned out with her job as an elementary band teacher. She was feeling the physical symptoms, and when she contacted me, she was already dreading the thought of returning to her school in the fall.

She had hopes of finding a position as an arts administrator in a non-profit, but as time went by, she had little luck finding those types of positions and landing them even if she got as far as an interview.

Angie decided to work with me because I had been an educator myself and I understood her feelings. After our initial complimentary strategy session, she decided to try the Starter Program which was intended to help her gain some clarity around what she wanted—and needed—next in her career.

A few months after completing the Starter Program, she reached out to me and asked about what her next steps might be. She decided to upgrade to the Group Coaching Program which gave her access to the rest of the program I offer:  (1) instruction on how to write a resume directed toward the next job you want; (2) help with an optimized LinkedIn profile; (3) learning how to write a compelling cover letter; (4) auditing social media profiles, and (5) preparing for an interview among other things.

She also benefitted from the group coaching support. It was eye-opening to learn that she wasn’t the only teacher feeling the way she felt. In fact, in her particular cohort, she was one of three music teachers going through the program!

Listen to Angie’s story in her own words as she explains how stressed out and unhappy she was when she first came to me and how happy she is now in her new position as a high school band director. She has found her passion for music and teaching again!

 

Angie’s experience shows that sometimes all you need to recharge your batteries or overcome the pain of burnout is to make a change in grade level, school, or school district. You may not have to leave teaching altogether to find your joy in teaching again.

Of course, if you have decided that you DO need to leave teaching in order to enjoy your work again, that’s okay, too. Life is too short for you to be spending it in work that you don’t enjoy, no longer find fulfillment in, or feel that you aren’t making a difference by doing anymore. Whatever it is for you that will fill you with joy again, that’s what I want for you.

I hope you found Angie’s story uplifting. If you would like to learn more about how I might assist you in making the change you want, please reach out to me and make an appointment for a no-obligation 20-minute strategy session. It won’t cost you anything but 20 minutes of your time…and it may change your life forever.

Sign up now.

The 3 Secrets of Every Successful Job Search or Career Change

When you are unhappy in your job or career, you may hang on longer than you want to because you don’t know how to start a new job search with any kind of confidence. That’s normal. In fact, it’s perfectly understandable. Until you know where to start, how would you know what to do?

I have come to believe that there are three “secrets” to every successful job search or career change, and I have been creating a guide that goes along with that thinking.

Would you like to know what those secrets are?

If you do, I invite you to download it by clicking here and getting it right now:  https://kittyboitnott.com/secrets.

Here is a preview of what you will learn:

  1. What is the #1 challenge every job seeker or career changer faces? It may not be what you think. Yet, from my work with hundreds of clients over the past 4 years, it is the #1 stumbling block that challenges most of my clients (like 99% of them) before they can begin their job search or career change.
  2. What are the 7 tools you need in order to successfully navigate the job search process? These may be more along the lines of what you might expect. For example, you will need a resume, a LinkedIn profile, and a cover letter strategy. Pretty standard stuff. BUT, did you know that a lot of the old rules and more traditional guidelines that you might have learned 10 or 20 years ago have been replaced with new formats and guidelines? Don’t date yourself by using old strategies that don’t work in today’s job search process.
  3. What is the “secret sauce” to your ultimate success when making a major change in your career? It has a lot to do with attitude, but there is so much more to it than that. It’s part of the reason people quit before they have been successful. Job searching can be a brutally difficult undertaking. It isn’t for sissies, that’s for sure. 

The fact is if you have knowledge of these three secrets and you know how to use the 7 tools I reference in this free guide, you’re halfway to the job of your dreams.

So, are you curious? Want to know more about the 3 secrets? Then click here now and find out what they are:  https://kittyboitnott.com/secrets.

Get your “secrets” now.

Speaking to the Issue of Teacher Burnout as a Guest on the “Always a Lesson” Podcast

A few months ago, I went in search of people who are offering podcasts related to education, and I found that there are many. In fact, many of them are connected through the Education Podcast Network. I reached out to a number of these individuals and connected with them through LinkedIn so I could follow their work.

In the process, I connected with one young teacher who is passionate about empowering teachers. She offers both a blog and a podcast and is a member of the Education Podcast Network.

Gretchen Schultek Bridgers who offers the podcast, “Always a Lesson” asked if I would be willing to be a guest on her podcast. I was thrilled to do that, and the resulting interview was released just this morning.

If you feel that you may be experiencing the signs or symptoms of burnout, don’t despair. There is hope. Perhaps you will hear something in this podcast that will spark an idea or generate an action plan. I sincerely hope so.

And if you have any questions about what you might be able to do if you decided that teaching isn’t what you want to do anymore, we should talk. Make an appointment for a no-obligation strategy session by using the form to the right of this message. It won’t cost you anything but a little bit of your time, and it may help you decide on next steps in your career.

Enjoy the podcast by clicking here.

Until next time.

Please Help If You Can

 

Unless you live in Texas in the most affected areas, you are like me. You are watching what is going on in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on TV or through social media. It heartbreaking to watch. I can’t even imagine it. Countless families have been displaced, perhaps indefinitely. Homes have been destroyed. Lives have been disrupted in ways few of the rest of us can even imagine.

After Katrina in 2005, people were displaced and relocated all over the country. I remember one little boy who showed up in a kindergarten class in my school in Richmond, Virginia. He appeared to be dazed and distracted. He was a Katrina survivor. When I learned that, his distraction made sense. He hadn’t yet recovered from having been displaced from his Louisiana home. Who knows what experience he had internalized during the aftermath of that terrible storm? I hope he is doing well today. He is probably watching what is happening on TV with vivid memories of his own, however.

Meanwhile, we are watching in real time as neighbors help neighbors and Good Samaritans are showing up everywhere in Texas.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, we are reminded. In spite of perceived differences between us, we are all human, and we are connected by our humanity. We need certain basics for mere survival, and right now, our neighbors in Texas are in survival mode. Our prayers are with each of them.

I am writing this message to urge anyone reading it to consider contributing to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Or if you prefer a church or charity of your choice, then give there.

 

If everyone were to donate just a little toward relief–just what you can spare–it would quickly add up. Our neighbors in Texas need our help.

And keep in mind that this is not an event that will be over anytime soon. People in the affected areas will need our continued help and support in the weeks and months to come.

If you have already given, thank you.

If you haven’t yet, please take just a moment to do that now. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time.

 

[Case Study] Learn How Richard Benefitted from Having Kitty Serve as a Sounding Board

Not everyone feels comfortable being in front of a camera, so for this case study, Richard has offered written answers to questions that I asked him about the work we did together as we considered the possibility of a new career path. He was experiencing symptoms of teacher burnout when he reached out to me a few months ago. Find answers to questions I asked him as we approached the end of our work together about the benefit of the work we did. He hasn’t yet made his transition out of teaching, but he is definitely moving in the right direction.

(Question) What particular challenge were you dealing with that led you to enroll with me to help with your job search?

(Richard) I have been a teacher for decades, and I was discovering that it was getting harder and harder to get my work done. I actually never believed in burnout, but in talking with Kitty and some others, I started to believe that burnout might, in fact have been the problem. A very long commute and having two small children drained all the enthusiasm and efficiency that I long had for my work. I simply started noticed that I was constantly fatigued and irritable. Furthermore, the school I worked at decided to grow class sizes and increase workload, despite many teachers there already putting in a good 60 hours a week. This kind of life for me started to become unsustainable. I found it hard to be an energetic teacher going at a full sprint for ten months a year. I’ve heard that many people switch careers several times in their lifetimes, but I never thought I would be one of them. So, I contacted Kitty, who specialized in working with teachers, to see what my options were.

Furthermore, the school I worked at decided to grow class sizes and increase workload, despite many teachers there already putting in a good 60 hours a week. This kind of life for me started to become unsustainable. I found it hard to be an energetic teacher going at a full sprint for ten months a year. I’ve heard that many people switch careers several times in their lifetimes, but I never thought I would be one of them. So, I contacted Kitty, who specialized in working with teachers, to see what my options were.

(Question) What was an answer, instruction, or inspiration you discovered that started to turn things around?

 (Richard) I spent most of my time working with Kitty on what might be realistic options for a new career. I started out taking an inventory of myself including my interests, skills, passions, wishes. Kitty’s course has several lengthy questionnaires, which took some time answering but were well worth the effort. Some of what Kitty noticed I already knew about myself.

My fascination with “big picture questions,” for example. Learning that she saw the same things in myself was encouraging for me. It gave me the confidence I needed to look into certain types of fields and not others. Indeed, Kitty provided a wealth of books and internet resources to help my self-exploration. It helped me really start to look hard at what I loved about teaching (and would want to keep in a future career) as well as what I disliked about the profession (and would want to avoid in a new career).

The most exciting thing that I discovered was my interest in questions of meaning and purpose. This led us to discuss the possibility of entering a ministry or chaplaincy. I had long considered this possibility, but what I think I needed to hear was someone else tell me that this really could be something that I did with my life. It wasn’t a “pipe-dream” or a pure fantasy. This led me to look into theology programs, including secular and Buddhist mindfulness training programs. The idea that there were other things I could do actually made my current job a little easier for me too. I felt far less trapped. I think Kitty’s encouragement was invaluable for me to consider that I was freer and more in control of what I did with my life than I was feeling after teaching for so long.

(Question) What were your specific results? (i.e., How is your life, job, career different now because of what you learned and implemented?)

(Richard) I am presently still teaching, but what has been exciting for me is that, once I started to consider a more religious profession, more doors for such a career started to open up for me. I am currently apprenticing with a mindfulness teacher, and I will begin a year-long training and certification program in June to become a mindfulness teacher for adolescents and children. I feel particularly called to this task since I have found that the stresses I experience in my job are equally shared by my students and their parents. I would like to help them all cope better with the pressures that are imposed on us. I don’t know yet what this means for earning a living, but I am excited by the prospect.

(Question)  What were other benefits you experienced from your work with me? (e.g. financial, emotional, physical, or spiritual)

(Richard) I think what I most valued from our conversation was Kitty’s encouragement and positive attitude about making changes in my life. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it helps to hear someone give you “permission” to move on, to try something new, to follow your passion or your dream. I think I was waiting for an invitation to make a change and that doing so was what was needed in my life. Such a change, though, is scary, as one is making a leap or taking a risk.

There is no guarantee my plans will ultimately work out, but I was encouraged by all the examples that Kitty shared with me of people who did take the leap and did land safely on the other side. Kitty often said to me that if we can be clear in what we want, the universe will open up opportunities for us. I think this is true insofar as, by making a commitment to investigate a new path for myself, I became aware of a lot of opportunities that were right there in front of me but that I wouldn’t I have noticed had Kitty not encouraged me to look for them. I am grateful for her guidance and encouragement throughout our time working together.

(Question) Would you recommend me as a coach to friends & colleagues? If so, why?

(Richard) Yes, I would recommend Kitty as a coach, especially to those who feel burnt out and stuck in teaching. Teaching is a harder job than I think many realize, especially if one is a committed teacher. Kitty worked for years in education, and she understands what burnout looks like and how to move past it. I found her to possess a wealth of resources – from books to internet sites and businesses to innovators and entrepreneurs in a variety of fields. I would often take note of all these resources to track them down once our conversations were over, and I always found them helpful for giving me new ideas on how to look at my own situation and how to build a new career for myself. I also found Kitty to be extremely encouraging and positive about making good changes in our lives. I found our time working together invaluable, and I would recommend her with great enthusiasm.

[Case Study] How This Teacher Experiencing Burnout Transitioned from K-12 to Higher Education

When Nicky first approached me, she was ready to make a change in her career. She wasn’t sure what that change should be, however. She had gone back to school after a few years of teaching in high school, and she had earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. Upon graduation, she went back to teaching high school because it felt familiar, and it was “safe.”

After just a few months, she knew she wasn’t going to be happy in the K-12 world long term. She had no clue how to where to start a job search, however. Luckily, her friend, Brooke, was able to tell her about me. I had already been working with Brooke (see her case study above). She referred Nicky to me to get help.

Listen to Nicky’s own words as she describes what she believes she gained from working with me as her career coach.

Sometimes You Need Encouragement

As Nicky points out in the video, having a career coach helped her become more positive in her outlook. When we began our work together, she was feeling pretty down on herself. She lacked the personal and professional confidence that she needed to stretch herself and examine all of the various possibilities that were available to her.

In the end, Nicky left the K-12 world and entered the world of higher education. She is now doing the exact type of work that she said she wanted to be doing when we began our work together.

Changing Your Job or Career Path Takes Patience and Persistence

Nicky also learned about the roller coaster aspect of the job search process. There were a number of peaks and valleys along the way in her individual job search journey. Job search is fraught with complications, and most of them are outside your control. You can go from the elation of feeling you have found the job of dreams to the deflation of learning you came in “second,” and someone else got the job. A competent and experienced career coach can help you manage your expectations during the process.

Nicky’s was not an overnight success story. We started working together in October of 2014, and she didn’t land her new job until the summer of 2016. In the meantime, she turned down at least one concrete offer and took herself out of the running for another opportunity that just didn’t feel like the right “fit.” That takes courage. It also takes confidence and the belief that something better will come along.

 

The “3 Ps” of Successful Job Search

Nicky is an example of someone who learned to practice what I refer to as the “3 Ps” of successful job search. She practiced patience and persistence, and she didn’t allow herself to panic…even when she might have wanted to. She decided to take action and change the trajectory of her career. She is now working on a college campus and teaching students who are training to become teachers on how to teach chemistry the right way. This has been a passion of hers for as long as I have known her. To get where she is now, she had to step out of her comfort zone, and she had to take action. She has definitely grown in her confidence in herself, and she continues to work on stretching herself. Congratulations to Nicky on having the patience and persistence to make the change in her life that she wanted. Way to go!

[Case Study] Hear How Brooke Went from Near Teacher-Burnout to a Situation Where She is Flourishing

I help burnt-out teachers explore their career alternatives. Sometimes the alternative is simply a transfer from one school or school district to another. Sometimes what is called for is a completely new direction. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. That is what I want my clients to know. Helping them explore their career alternatives means exploring all of the possibilities that make sense for them. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

.Infinite possibilities world map

For information on how one teacher went from near burnout to a situation where she is not only flourishing but she is sharing with her students what she learned about the importance of managing stress and practicing mindfulness, click here.

To learn more about how you too might go from feeling stressed out and overloaded with your job, contact me. I would really love to help you if I can.

Also, check out my video presentation on the 7 signs of teacher burnout if you aren’t quite sure if you are there yet. Even if you are only experiencing a few of the seven symptoms, you owe it to yourself to consider your career alternatives, don’t you?

Until next time.

 

 

It’s Time for Teachers to Buckle Up

I don’t know who you voted for, and at this point, it doesn’t matter. It’s water over the dam. If you are a public school teacher, or you are married to a public school teacher or you  are a proud product of our nation’s public schools, buckle up. We are in for a rough ride for the next few years.

Public education has been under siege since 1983 when the Reagan administration dropped the bombshell report, A Nation at Risk on the country.

I started teaching in 1975, and public education had already begun to be questioned before 1983. The media and certain pundits had started to complain (even then) that the public schools in the United States weren’t keeping up with other nations when comparing test scores. Of course, those same members of the media and those same pundits routinely overlooked the fact that post-school segregation, more students from more diverse backgrounds were taking standardized tests like the SAT, and when disaggregated, the U. S wasn’t doing that poorly in comparison after all.

The United States has, until recently, been a place where education was valued, and until about 20 years ago, it was a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that the country needed to invest in public schools so that students could be given an equal opportunity to succeed. The United States, after all, has been the place where anyone could be successful no matter how humble their beginnings. A good education and a willingness to work could lead to a successful career and a better life.

Oh, how things have changed! Today, we have re-segregated our schools as a result of backing off the intention of Brown v. Board of EducationWe don’t even fake for “separate but equal” anymore.

In urban areas, schools are neglected to the point that buildings are falling apart, and no one seems to care. Those who are pushing for charters and choice also don’t seem to care that not everyone will have the luxury of school choice…and no one is yet addressing what will happen to those “left behind.”

Given that we now have a President who apparently couldn’t care less about public education given his choice of Education Secretary, it is time for public school teachers to wake up to a new reality.

If there had ever been a year for a teacher to be a one-issue voter with that one issue being education, this would have been it. I suspect, however, that like many people who wanted “change,” many teachers voted for change as well. Like I said, buckle up. We are about to see “change” like we have never seen it before across the board–including in our nation’s schools.