“Whoa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you”
James Brown had a recipe for success long ago, but if you're in the teaching game it's obvious that what we do can bring a lot of joy and good times to your life.
The truth is…
We all want to feel good.
As human beings it is our natural tendency to want to feel good about ourselves. We are filled with moments and experiences that trigger hormones and chemicals that make us feel good and this is what we all crave more of. Teaching is a career that provides so much joy and happiness, but is your brain conditioned to appreciate a state of joy and happiness?
The student that’s been falling asleep in class is suddenly engaged and paying attention since his parents have finally listened to you and started making him breakfast. Are you happy or are you still stressed about the argument you had yesterday with a difficult parent?
The class is working really well and the room is filled with positive energy, do you feel a sense of joy or are you worried about the assembly planned for tomorrow?
Your principal mentioned to the staff meeting the wonderful job you did running after school sports, but maybe you were so concerned with forgetting to take the washing off the line that you almost missed the comment all together.
You are an educator. You are surrounded by joy and happiness every day. If you are not managing your emotional state, then you will struggle to find the golden moments that make you feel good about yourself and give you fulfillment from your career. It’s time to start noticing how wonderful your life is.
By managing your state, you can elevate to a higher level and live with a sense of purpose and in flow. Being able to teach in flow is available to all educators by learning how to manage your state, this is essential to having a positive influence in student lives.
It is important to recognise that you can control your state at all times. No matter the circumstances you can control how you think and feel. There are people who have lost limbs, been severely burnt, crippled in car accidents and lost their sight, they have been through some of the most horrific things in life and they have still found a way to be happy. Because they made the decision that life is too short to suffer. They decided to control their state of mind.
Have you ever heard of the 90 second-rule?
This is one example strategy of how to manage your state at any particular point in time. When you catch yourself feeling stressed, anxious, worried or pissed off etc. you stop what you are doing, take a deep breath in and observe what you are thinking, next watch that thought go by like a cloud in the sky, thinking to yourself how you’re not going to let that silly thought derail you.
Try using this mnemonic to remember this, STOP.
S- Stop what you are doing
T- Take a deep breath
O- Observe how you are feeling and what you are thinking
P- Pass it on and prepare for your next move
As world famous life coach Tony Robbins explains this perfectly in action “I feel myself starting to feel that stressed feeling when I’m pissed off, upset, concerned or worried, but I get thinking about whatever it is and I realise that's not gonna make it better… life's too short to suffer and then I just gotta breathe slowly, slow everything down and see how crazy that thought really is. We have all thought I'm gonna kill that son of a bitch, right? and then we don't kill them, because you don't actually believe in that thought, it's the thoughts themselves that are stressful and when you question them you break the pattern”.
Just like Tony, SMILE Teachers believes in using effective tools and strategies like the 90-sec rule to help you build the self-awareness to manage your state.
The ability to manage your state results in a better quality of life. It allows you to concentrate your energy and attention to the things you love, the things that bring you the most joy and make you feel good about yourself. As an educator, being able to manage your state is such a powerful tool. You set the tone in your classroom and school. No student should ever have to be the victim of a highly, strung, negative teacher who is waiting for the next giggle or wrong answer to snap.
How do teachers manage their state?
Well it is important to consider- why to first, then how to?
80% why managing your state is important and 20% how to manage your state.
The first part of this process is to work out why you want to succeed in managing your state. As mentioned, there are many benefits to managing your state of mind and body. Take a moment to think of all the reasons why you would want be in a positive state of mind and health. It shouldn’t be hard for you to come up with a range of reasons why improving your mind and body state can have a huge impact on your life.
Here are just a few reasons why we believe managing your state is important:
Creating a safe emotional environment at school and home
Having stronger and caring relationships
Effectively responding to student needs
Creative leader who has a positive influence
Allows you to think more openly with a creative mindset
More energy and motivation
Better moods and management of stress
Engaging teaching and learning delivery
Positive behaviour management
More present and mindful
Love what you do
The list is actually endless and using the tools and strategies we provide will significantly help you to better manage your state to succeed in today’s education world.
There are two primary ways to control your state, the state of mind and state of body:
Control the way you use your body (physiology and the way you move)
Control your mental focus (mind- attention, self-talk, mindful, rationale etc).
These two are directly connected and it should be no surprise to you, we have all heard about the mind, body connection, now start paying attention.
“Emotion is determined by motion”
The way you move your body in space has a direct effect on your mind. It goes without saying that if you’re the poor soul who spend’s your day in a 2x2m office cubicle hunched over your desk, glued to a screen, you are not only going to have shocking posture, saw feet, a car tyre around your waist and a serious case of too much telly neck, your mental state is going to be less than beneficial. This realistic example is a clear demonstration of how poor body movement or lack off, contributes to feeling sluggish, tired, stressed, demotivated and mental illness.
Teachers alone can be faced with any number of stressors or predecessors to negative thinking, fear, self-doubt and anxiety on a daily basis. Ignore how you’re moving and thinking and it’s a slippery slope from there. Learning how to manage your state and control how you feel in any situation is your new teaching super power and it all starts with how you move.
How does moving improve your state?
As long as humans have walked the planet we have had to maintain our physical state. And we do this by moving. We adapt to our environment by responding to stress appropriately or we don’t survive (fight or flight). In modern times, we exercise and we complete repetitions to help our body get stronger, lighter, more efficient, which leads to feeling better about yourself and a whole range of health benefits.
Your mental state is no different. To continue to reign supreme as the most dominant species on the planet, you need to train your brain. You can improve your mental state by completing mental reps. The more you think a certain thought the more this effect’s your state, for example, think about something troubling for too long and you start to worry, think about something fun and you get excited. Learning to condition your brain to move passed the negative thoughts, towards more positive thinking is the start of shifting your state. The start of becoming in control of how you feel.
Physical movement is the best remedy when you are feeling stressed or anxious. The way you move around each day will send signals directly to your brain to tell you how you are feeling. Movement produces a whole range of positive hormones and chemicals- serotonin and oxytocin are two of the happy hormones that make you feel good. Simply by moving around more and being energetic at school can significantly improve your overall state. We want teachers to move and be moving where ever possible, this is the next step to managing your state.
Think of when you are at your best, how do you move and feel?
Happy, energetic, motivated, joyful, fulfilled, standing up tall, head held high, smiling and breathing freely.
How do you move when feeling depressed?
Slumped posture, eyes down, shallow breathing, low energy, dragging your feet.
Maybe you’re even renowned for having a resting bitch face. If your face has a reputation of being unhappy and stressed then you’re in trouble. It’s time to manage your state!
There are 80 muscles in your face. That’s 80 messages to your brain saying you’re are in “a bitch of a mood”. For most people this is the largest area of unemployment in their body. You need to start training and get them working by SMILING. We should all be sending express mail to our brain to say we are happy. The fastest way to feeling good is to SMILE. If you are not feeling good about yourself, stressed, anxious or worried start moving and start smiling. Start to shift your mental state. Change your focus, change your movement, change your feeling.
Most teachers want to be happy, but their habit is to be angry, worried, grumpy or pissed off. Their brain and body are so used to this feeling, because they never question why they feel this way.
These people have a highway to stress and a dirt road to happiness.
So take a moment and check in with yourself.
How are you going to start significantly improving your state?
A morning routine is the best place to start. If you are somebody that likes to sleep in to the very last minute, quickly get up, skip breakfast, race out the door and rush to work, then you are already behind the eight ball. Creating your own morning routine that is authentic for you will directly promote a positive state and improve how you feel. This will set you up for a much more positive and joyful day.
Below is an idea of how to start a simple morning routine. It will take you 10-20mins and should be done as soon as you wake up in the morning before you leave for work. I started with this routine about three years ago and it had such a profound impact on me that I now get up an hour early each day, for my morning “hour of power”.
Please adjust things to suit yourself but the important elements should stay. Completing this primes, you for the day ahead by connecting your mind and body to operate in a positive emotional state.
Gratitude. Write down 5 things you're grateful for. When you’re grateful you can’t be angry, stressed, worried, depressed or living in fear.
Goal setting of the top 5 things I want to achieve that day. Make them as a positive statement, for example, “I will provide positive feedback to 10 students”
Take 10 breaths while you sit with your gratitude and goals
Set yourself up for a great day! There will be no more “snapping” at a student or staff member, you know the times you do it and say “it is just the state am in” or “I’m just having a moment” there is no excuse for this. You snapping at a student can have a detrimental effect on their emotional well-being, even if you didn’t mean to. They deserve to learn in a safe emotional environment, so you need to control your state.
If we don’t take control of our environment, it takes control of us. This leads to a fragile emotional state and inadvertently, a reactive mindset where you are not doing your job well.
So remember teachers, if you don’t work out, you don’t get any muscle. If you don’t train your brain, it will train you.
Start now and adopt a consistent daily routine that works for you. If you don’t prime yourself for the day, don’t expect to get a whole lot of value out of anything. How do you expect to find joy in the day and be in a high performance state if you aren’t primed for it?
Life is constant growth and by starting now, you can significantly shift your mindset and change the way you live. It starts with you, you are in control, you are the captain of your vessel.
I used to get angry, frustrated, worried, sad, anxious and depressed and now I just don’t live there. I used to be stuck there for months at a time. Now I am more self-aware and I just don’t let myself get stuck there. I have developed my own tools and strategies to move out of that state and into a state of growth. Sure i get angry, frustrated or pissed off from time to time but I am happy the fast majority of the time because I am doing what I love, with who I love, I have a purpose, meaning and daily routine that primes me to be happy and teach well.
I challenge you to control your state and control your life.