Friday Five: Ways to Relieve Stress at the Beginning of the School Year

The beginning of the year is always hectic. I usually feel like I’m at my best because I’m refreshed from the summer; however, an exorbitant amount of work-related hours are devoted to this time of year. We have back to school nights, phone calls to introduce ourselves to parents, shopping trips at Staples, newsletters that we create, emergency lesson plans to establish, and setting up routines with students at the beginning of the year (while completely worth it) can be exhausting! Here are 5 fabulous ways to relieve stress during this busy time of year.

5. Go to a spa!

There are more spas and salons in your local area than you can probably count. They ALWAYS offer deals and bargains.  Many places will offer a 10%-20% discount just for being a new customer.  Living Social and Groupon are excellent sources for finding spa deals, and usually if you call a place and tell them about the deal you found online, they will honor it directly so you don’t have to use your credit card online (another way to feel a little more relaxed!). I recently found a deal online that is getting me a 60 minute massage, a 30 minute express facial, and lunch for $55 at my local spa.  If I’m working full-time, $55 is about a 1/4 of my daily income.  If I’m subbing, it’s about 1/2 my daily income.  Definitely worth it in the beginning of the year to spend a couple hours in a spa relaxing on a Saturday with my friends!  You could also consider getting a Sports Manicure the next time you get your nails done at a salon. Sports Manicures are a few dollars cheaper but still offer all the bells and whistles of a regular manicure.  The only difference, usually, is that they do not put polish on your nails. If it’s going to save me a few dollars, I’d be happy to have them buff my nails or just put on my favorite color of polish at home later that day. At least using my own polish will allow me to touch it up easier so my manicure will last longer!

4. Try a free gym trial!

Going to a gym for an hour at the end of a long day sounds counterintuitive.  I hate running, I’ve never been terribly athletic, and even now that I LOVE my gym, I still have to drag myself in there some days.  But hear me clearly – I’ve never regretted going once I’ve gotten there. Every gym I’ve ever seen offers a free trial. Some last for one or two classes while others last a full month.  There is no reason to commit to anything right away. It’s ok to say no to a membership after the free trial! You want to look around for a little while to make sure that what you’ve found is a good fit for you. I tried three other gyms before I finally settled on the one I’m going to now. My suggestion for a gym is to find one that offers group classes.  Planet Fitness is fine, I guess, but there’s no motivation to return to a gym like that. Who wants to walk on a treadmill for 45 minutes each night like a rat in a cage… staring at a TV screen? No. When you find group classes, you put yourself into a routine. If the class is offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, then you plan ahead each week to make sure you can attend those classes.  If you take group classes, you meet new people from all walks of life and engage in conversation – you laugh and smile at the end of a long day! Making connections with people in class can also motivate you to attend regularly which is something a lonely 24hour gym like Planet Fitness won’t be able to offer you. Make sure you find an instructor that challenges you but doesn’t leave you feeling discouraged.  Use the free trials to try something outside of your comfort zone like boxing, yogaMuay Thai, Haganah, Zumba, Brazilian jiu jitsu, self defense, Crossfit, MMAdance, or a rock climbing gym. Call a Zumba instructor and have him or her come to your school so all your colleagues can take a class together at the end of the day (there are over 350 Zumba instructors just near Harrisburg alone). Of course, the YMCA offers great family packages that include FREE child care while you’re taking their group classes. If you have a family with young children, the YMCA would be a great place to do a free trial. Some YMCAs offer rock climbing walls, outdoor obstacles courses, and pools as well.

3. Plan a movie night!

On your way home from work on Friday, stop by the grocery store to pick up a few snack items.  I love the bags of healthy popcorn that are being sold everywhere now. And I always buy some dark chocolate to snack on too. Think of comfort foods that make you happy and brainstorm healthier versions of them. Fresh fruit dipped in Greek yogurt instead of Coolwhip is yummie! When you get home, turn off your cell phone, leave your computer in another room, and flip on Netflix or On Demand to see what movies are available.  You’re bound to find something – a cheesy horror or sci fi remake, a comedy, a love story, a suspense thriller, a drama – whatever you want. Spend an evening in, all by yourself, and forget the outside world exists for a couple hours!

2. Spend time with family and/or your pets!

This is a tough one. If I had to choose between spending time with my husband and spending time with my Bernese Mountain Dog, I think we all know which one I’d pick! There are benefits to each though. You could go out for a nice dinner with your significant other (nice does not equate to expensive) and enjoy appetizers or drinks outside while the weather is still nice. I particularly enjoy sleeping in on a Saturday or Sunday and then going out for Brunch with my hubby.  Those days are lazy and relaxing.  On the other hand, Fall is the perfect time to take dogs for walks outside.  Most dogs love to hike and swim. Since the weather is a little cooler now, it’s easier to accommodate those hikes and long walks since I don’t feel like I’m sweating lakes as I accompany her on her walks. My dog is just as happy walking around the neighborhood on evenings when I’m too tired to drive out to a nature preserve and hike with her. Being with my dog always puts a smile on my face and relieves tension quickly.

My Puppy!
My Puppy!

1. Happy Hour!

What teacher doesn’t enjoy a good happy hour? Get a few friends together – colleagues or not – and try out a new happy hour each week in November when it’s getting too cold to do much outside.  Every local pub and restaurant offers something in the way of cheap appetizers and drinks during happy hour. Usually chefs will prepare specialty items just for happy hour like bison sliders, garlicky basil fries, buck-a-shuck oysters, or something else fun and unique. Hopefully that terrible post-happy-hour/let’s-stay-for-karaoke hangover is a thing of the past for all of us. Drink responsibly and get yourself home safely. Here is a link to a slideshow with 13 of the best happy hour specials in Philadelphia according to the Philadelphia Magazine. Google your local community and the words “happy hour” to find a similar list in your hometown!

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Friday Five: Ways to Relieve Stress at the Beginning of the School Year

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