15 Years ago in Bandworld
Self-Inflicted Burnout (concluded)
by Phillip C. Wise
Vol. 11, #4, p.13 (March - April, 1986)
Don't Take It Home
You must resist the temptation to bring your work home. Your home is a place of safety, a refuge far removed from the tensions of the day. This time should be for family, friends, hobbies and activities, or just grappling with the hills and valleys of life; in short, personal development (outside of music). If you don't have interests other than music, I say, get some!
I recall one Sunday afternoon in July when I ran into a colleague at the local mall. When I asked if he was enjoying his summer vacation, he promptly squared his shoulders and with great pride declared that he had gone into work every day since the last day of school. Although somewhat surprised by his declaration, I continued the conversation and asked "How are your kids?" "Fine", he exclaimed, "a few of them have stopped by the band room and I have given some lessons and even held some sectionals." "No," I responded in disbelief, "Your kids - your son and daughter." "Oh , " he tenuously responded with embarrassment, his eyes suddenly mesmerized by the tiled floor, "Uh .... uh .... fine". He then quickly excused himself and bolted toward the nearest exit. I wonder what would have happened had I asked him the name of his two children!
A variety of interests outside music and education actually helps you strengthen your musical skills. By caring for your physical, mental and spiritual well-being, you are able to be more effective at your work. All work and no play makes Jack a boring and somewhat stupid person. Don't take it home.
Take Time Each Day For Yourself
Do you feel that your administrators would be upset if you take some personal time each day? Granted, some may, but remember that you are a person of importance, deserving of personal respect. I suggest finding fifteen to thirty minutes daily for your own personal development.
Having taught for a number of years, I am fully aware of the demands placed on your time during every school day; however, you must set aside the time and stick to this plan. If your schedule will not allow this interim during the school day, use your lunch break, a preparation period, or time before or after school.
Your personal time should be void of work related activity. Read a newspaper or magazine, walk around the block or practice your instrument. I had a colleague who brought a small television set to school and watched thirty minutes of a soap opera in her office during her prep period. No, she was not struck by a bolt of lightening from the Superintendent in the Sky, but rather quite the opposite: The activity refreshed her both mentally and physically and prepared her for the busy afternoon.
Not all administrators are void of this need for faculty personal time. A few years ago I received a memo from the president of our university encouraging each faculty member to take a fifteen minute nap every afternoon. Yes, a nap! He wrote that many cultures have found great physical, mental and spiritual value in this practice. What a "breath of fresh air" to have an administrator understand the pressures of teaching and offer the faculty this time. Although this president has since gone, I keep his memorandum framed on my office wall as a reminder of the personal time I need each day.
Don't Feel Guilty
Oh yes, martyrdom! The nicotine of stress! You must stop feeling guilty because you are not working every second, of every minute, of every day, six days a week. This turns into a vicious cycle culminating with the belief that you can never do enough for professional edification. Guilt complexes can be related to past personal experiences, but can be resolved by your own psychological transformation. You are ultimately in control of the way you feel-no one else.