Why Bother Stepping Away?
I have been experiencing more stress than I thought. Normally, I carry the pressures of my job with ease. The routines I practice to maintain my health; exercise, meditation, eating well and getting a good night’s rest, usually keep me balanced. But this week was different. Though I wasn’t sure what I needed, my body told me I needed something more to get me through the week. So, when a new friend of mine suggested that I take Friday off from work, I considered it to be just what I needed.
I’ve become quite fond of Mrs. C., a relatively new employee and fast friend at my school. After she retired from a different district in another state, she and her husband moved to our community. Starting out as a volunteer art teacher, she was soon hired to work part time as an aid in my classroom.
Her enthusiasm, humility, cheerfulness and insights makes her a blessing to work with. She is not only aware of the needs of my students, but she is attentive to what I need too.
For instance, every spring, I work with the music teacher to produce a musical performance depicting the history of Idaho. It is a lot of work. There are lines to memorize, songs to sing, poems to write and costumes to create. And then there are the rehearsals.
On Tuesday, two days before the performance, I rehearsed the play one more time with my students. Mrs. C. stood nearby to assist wherever she could. The boys were restless, the girls were nervous and forgot their lines. I was tired and my patience was nearly gone. But we made it through our rehearsal and when I turned to Mrs. C. to ask how she thought it went she said,“Oh, it was lovely and they will do great, but I think you should take Friday off.”
We filed back to the classroom and got back to work, but Mrs. C’s words stuck in my brain, “You should take Friday off.”
I considered her remark. Taking a day off is never easy. There is no guarantee of finding a substitute teacher and if I were lucky to get one then there are the lesson plans to create. My first thought was that it is too much work to take a day off, but by the end of the day, I’d changed my mind. The thought blossomed into a plan.
First, I approached my principal who approved my request. “You haven’t taken a personal day all year. I think you should take Friday off,” he said.
Then, someone chose to substitute for me and I created an easy plan for them to follow. Thursday the day of the play arrived. The boys settled down and took their parts seriously, and the girls remembered their lines. The performance was a hit. And now today, Friday, I am not going into my classroom. Instead, I am staying home.
At first I was a little embarrassed that Mrs. C. saw my stress. But now I am only grateful. Mrs. C. was right. I needed to take the day off.
Why bother stepping away? It is worth it to step away from our work when possible. Whether we know it or someone else points it out to us, taking a day off is simply what a body sometimes needs.