Absorbing the Mental Load

Forgive me if this is all over the place. So is my brain. Also, this blog won’t actually have any photos in it, so if you come here for the visuals, you should probably just press that little x at the top right of the screen right now.

I’ve been back at work full time now for about a month. During this time, Ontario has also entered the second wave of the pandemic, and cases are at an all time high. My kids are back in school as well. Truly, I savour every minute of knowing they’re at school, socializing (from a distance), and learning from a more qualified teacher than me (I’m great at teaching Shakespeare, but I can’t teach little kids to read and write). Every day we’re in school is a good day, despite the constant lingering fear that one of us will contract Covid. I mean, it’s in the schools. It could happen to us. I’ve stopped looking at that ever-growing list, because simply put, my heart can’t take it.

My first few weeks back were such a rush of excitement and exhaustion. Having been out of the building since March, it felt amazing to sit at my desk, greet my students in the morning (albeit half of them), and teach face to face. Even the afternoon virtual component of this hybrid model is fun for me. It’s crazy the types of engaging dialogues you can have with students virtually, when everyone is committed and invested.

But in the past week or two, the initial excitement has worn off, and teacher burnout has ensued. A big part of this is my students need me. I have 72 of them this semester (which is actually a small number compared to the 90 I’ve had in previous years), and they all email me with questions, requests for support, etc. I’m the one who they turn to not just for academic support, but emotional support too. I absorb their stress, burdens, and anxiety. I am their guide. And to be frank, during this time, that is entirely too much for me.

I’m really struggling to compartmentalize everyone’s emotional and physical needs. My students’. My own. My families’. Not to mention all the brands I partner with on top of all of this, which is essentially a third job beyond teaching and parenting. My brain can’t absorb this mental load, and I often wake at 5 am on the dot, panic-stricken at all I have to do that day.

So what gives?

Do I put my Instagram job on hiatus? No, because I’ve just been offered some amazing partnerships. Do I go to sleep earlier? I mean, you can’t go to sleep earlier than my already ridiculous 9 pm bedtime. I’m not really sure how to proceed without the inevitable crash. This isn’t long term sustainable. Usually I have a vacation to look forward to, but alas, that isn’t in the cards for a long time to come.

Basically I’m reaching out to all of you. Not to unload (well, okay, to unload a little), but to hear if you have any suggestions. I already practice so much self care, but it isn’t helping me stay afloat.

If you’ve made it to this part, I genuinely want to thank you for reading. Athleisure Teacher, out.

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