The holidays are always stressful. Sure, the lights, music, and celebration can be fun, but there’s no denying it also takes a toll. For educators, it’s even worse. The atmosphere in our classrooms gets completely turned on its head. Students who are normally diligent workers become restless, impulsive, and occasionally downright moody. It’s a phenomenon that the VAEI’s Terra Tarango often refers to as, December Syndrome.

Handling the holiday stress can be difficult for teachers when you mix year-end craziness with student anticipation. As a result, we can sometimes fail to notice that certain students are dealing with the same anxiety. Maybe it’s the increased workload that’s supposed to keep them on task. Maybe they’re experiencing trouble at home, and a week off from school doesn’t feel like much of a holiday. Whatever the reason, it’s important to make your classroom a place both you and your students can find reprieve.

Learning to Let Go

Of course, this is easier said than done. It can be hard to reassure a stressed student when you’re stressed yourself. So, if you find yourself running low on holiday cheer, consider using this advice to give your classroom a little boost:

  • Just Breathe: No, really, just breathe. Taking a moment of meditation can do wonders for you and your students. By relaxing body and mind, you can give your classroom a chance to flush out all the negative emotions and start over with a clean slate. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get back on track.
  • Be Generous: It turns out Ebenezer Scrooge had the right idea. Generosity has a way of lifting us out of our winter funk and reminding us what’s truly important. You don’t have to buy gifts, just be generous with your encouragement. Compliment your student’s hard work or congratulate them on all the progress they’ve made that semester.
  • Get Students to Think Beyond Themselves: Your students have the potential to be a powerful force for good. What if you could focus all that energy toward an act of service? If your class has been researching economics, why not have them collect money for a life-changing microloan? If you’ve been dialoguing with senior citizens, why not treat these new friends to a holiday party? There are so many possibilities for bringing joy this season. Don’t let the opportunity pass!          
Rediscovering Your Holiday Spirit

Sure, the holidays will always be a source of tension for educators, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a source of inspiration as well. Letting your students know that they matter can help them when they’re feeling overwhelmed. In turn, directing their efforts toward a common good will raise both their spirits and yours. What better way to prepare yourselves for the promising new season ahead!

What about you? How are you handling holiday stress?

*Today’s image courtesy of Warner Bros.