Learning the Difference Can Really Improve Your Health!
Have you heard this line before or said it yourself? “I would feel so much better if I did not have this stress.” But stress is your emotion, so if you do not want to feel the stress, then it is under your control. What may not be under your control are stressors in life—they are outside of you. The stressors could include relationship difficulties, financial difficulties, health issues, etc. However, the emotion of stress is yours to feel or not.
I did not always understand this distinction. In fact, if someone had said this to me during the most “stressful” periods of my life, I might have rolled my eyes and said to myself “you don’t understand what I am going through” or something similar.
Reminiscing About the Stressors in My Teaching Career
This morning I woke up thinking about a student-teacher who I mentored 25 years ago when I was teaching high school. He had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and I was not as compassionate as I should have been because (in my mind) he was not doing his job and it was my job to evaluate him in order for him to pass and become a teacher. I was his stressor and I now understand that the stress he was feeling was creating more gut issues. I wish I had known about HeartMath® and all the emotional self-regulation tools that I now rely upon to keep stressors from becoming stress.
I am Being Given a Chance to Remedy this Mistake at FGCU this Fall
This year I will be assisting pre-service teachers in learning to do just that and to build resilience and manage their energy in the face of teaching stressors, COVID stressors, and other life stressors. My aim is to help them develop the skills to keep teaching and life stressors from becoming the emotion of stress and lead to or further exacerbate current health issues. I have been hired by Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) to provide HeartMath® training for these student teachers in their final semester before going into the field full time.
There is such a need for providing mental and emotional health services for our teachers; however, I am noticing that there is a great deal of denial going on within our educational institutions. Everyone is in so much of a rush to get back to normal, they are failing to recognize the health effects of allowing stressors to become stress.
Case In Point
I have spent the summer coaching summer enrichment teachers who are in the classroom already. Below is one of the short HeartMath ® videos I made for the group after their initial training. However, I have noticed that this video has only been opened two times even though there were a dozen teachers involved in my training. I believe I know the answer—they are just too busy teaching and dealing with daily small and big crises during the program concerning the children to notice the elephant in the room—their own physical and emotional health.
I am so committed to helping people in the field that I finally left after giving from an empty cup. These days I know how to keep my cup full, and I am hoping to share this wisdom with the courageous teachers who continue to face so many challenges in the classroom during the second year of the pandemic. If you know of any teachers, administrators, or school systems that could benefit from my services, please feel free to pass on my information.