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Working with Difficult Emotions: Mindfulness for Teachers

Mindfulness for teachers may be the solution to this summer’s difficult emotions.

If  you haven’t caught the news, I’m going to just save you the trouble but not go into it too much.  Let’s just say in the world (and in education) things are feeling a little overwhelming and uncertain…to put it mildly.  

This week we received some specifics about our own path forward to opening and I’m just trying to not get too caught up in what that might mean right now.  What I keep telling myself is who knows what will be happening in a few weeks….

So if you’re struggling with this same thing: getting swept up with the what ifs and the ruminating thoughts or like you’re not sure what to do with yourself because you go back and forth between worrying and being okay.  And then when you feel okay, you realize you should be worrying.

Here’s the thing.  It doesn’t really do us any good to spend all of our time worrying now about what-ifs.  If we spend energy now worrying about what is to come, we will have spent this precious time worrying about things that may or may not happen but not allowed ourselves to truly rest, reset, and recharge a bit.

And please remember that taking these moments of self-care are actually quite radical.  Our society doesn’t really equip us with the ability to say yes to ourselves without a little twinge of guilt.

So if you’d like to participate in a radical act, I would invite you to take twenty minutes to sit still.

Here is the video from this week’s Morning Mindfulness Practice.  It’s all about working with our difficult emotions.

By working with our emotions in a neutral place, more free of daily distractions, we are practicing for when we are in the real everyday hustle and bustle of our classrooms or personal lives.  Life just happens, so practicing working with these emotions when things are neutral helps to build those neural pathways.

So what do you do beyond these twenty minutes of sitting still?  What happens when these thoughts just keep going?

Here are three techniques you can use to work with difficult emotions in the “real world”…

  • Keep a journal and use it regularly (morning or evening) or get it out when you are feeling fear or worry overtake you.  Set a timer and just write.  Schedule specific time to “worry” so that you don’t have to hold all of inside your brain trying to “wish” it away.
  • Use the Serenity Prayer to figure out what is yours to worry about and what is out of your control. 
  • Take a social media break.  It could be for a few hours or even a few days.  Don’t be shy about putting an autoresponder on your email and telling your friends online.  Predetermine the amount of time, set the ground rules for yourself and just enjoy the time.  Try an app-blocker on your phone if you find you need a little more oversight.

When we’re working with difficult emotions, one big thing is to remember you are not alone.  We all are going through similar things right now.  

I didn’t list it, but reaching out to friends and family or fellow teachers may be really helpful right now.

For more consistent support do help each other now and for whatever the future brings, check out the We are Teaching Well group.

If you’d like to get weekly teacher wellness sent directly to your inbox, please subscribe to Teaching Well’s Weekly Well Wish.


Danielle Nuhfer
danielle@teachingwell.life

Here are a few titles I go by...teacher, student, gardener, runner, nature-lover, writer and meditator. I care deeply about my own journey to wellness and want to inspire others to walk this path. Inspiring others to discover the value of mindfulness, positive psychology and other holistic health practices is my life's work.

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