Much has transpired since we opened this school year. Some great days, some challenging days and we have even witnessed some days of minor miracles. And yet for most Catholic school leaders, especially those who have already given everything they have, these last few months or weeks of school can seem like an eternity. No matter how hard you try to pace yourself, a Catholic school leader who is dedicated to giving teachers, students and parents their all, sometimes doesn’t have much left when May and June roll around. Every Catholic school leader needs to approach the end of the year in a way that works best for him or her. But then again, every Catholic school leader needs to remind themselves in May/June to not “spike the ball on the 5 yard line”. Every Catholic school leader will feel better about summer vacation if they know that they have left it all on the field as they cross the finish line of another academic year.
The following strategies are important all year round but even more important to help Catholic school leaders be more effective and focused on myriad professional demands during the last lap of the academic year:
Find Time for Yourself
Doing something that allows you to get away from education-related stuff is important. It’s great to have this hobby as a regular part of your life to keep your stress levels down over the course of the year. This hobby doesn’t have to be a solo activity. It could be something that you do with your spouse, friends, children, or whomever you want. The idea is devoting time to something (other than be a school administrator and minister) that makes you happy.
Partner with Another Catholic School Leader
It’s always good to have someone whom you can count on to be there for you when things get stressful. It’s even better if this someone is also a Catholic school leader, because he or she will have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with at the moment.. He or she can walk you through problems that would have been easy to deal with in September, but seem to be impossible by May. The other side of finding a teammate is being a teammate in return. As much as you receive, you’ll need to give as well. This might sound like more of the stress that’s been leading you to burnout, but helping others can actually make you feel great. It can also help you understand other problems that you deal with at school. Having a partner with whom you can share stressful situations helps prevent you from “crashing and burning.”.
Writing on a regular basis is a wonderful way to keep the fire burning throughout the school year. This can be in a private journal or on a blog for the world to see. Writing helps get ideas out of the head and safely memorialized. I often require new school leaders to journal in their first year of service and have even encouraged some to do so with a spouse as serving as a Catholic school leader is a family commitment. The writing process can be very powerful for people dealing with high levels of stress. Writing can sometimes provide a different perspective.
As the Jimmy Buffet song says, “if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” Find the things that make you laugh and do them. The Mayo Clinic lists many of the positives of laughter when it comes to stress. The short-term benefit of laughter can “stimulate many organs, activate and relieve your stress response, and soothe tension.” The long-term impact of laughter can “improve your immune system, relieve pain, increase personal satisfaction, and improve your mood.”