For this series on depressurizing the teacher's soul, I'm going to keep a few things consistent:
- All links for the series will be in the anchor post — the one I linked to above.
- I'll have a few standard footnotes for folks who are like, “Wait, I have no TIME for these depressurization things!” .
- I'll keep my remarks to 1,000 words or less (which takes me extra time but saves you pressure).
- I'll try to come up with ways to play with the strategy at home and at school (an interesting challenge at times, especially when the strategy is something like “sleep”).
- I'll seek to cut through the noise and establish the most basic understanding of the strategy as I can.
Today our focus is on depressurizing the body through exercise.
Stuff that I think is important to think about exercise
The body, like the mind, atrophies through disuse.
Atrophy feels bad. But we can't escape it. Our bodies are like the battery packs of our souls.
Exercise (for me) is NOT (!!!) about achieving some kind of arbitrary body type or look.
Whenever I exercise to achieve a certain look, I end up quitting. This is because I get so close to being a mirror image of Chris Hemsworth, but I never quite get there.
But seriously: if your goal is disrupting the Workload-Pressure Cycle, I gotta ask you — how is adding pressure to your exercise working out in terms of depressurizing your soul?
Instead of arbitrary-body-type-attainment, exercise = using the body.
- Standing instead of sitting.
- Walking or cycling instead of driving.
- Taking a walk instead of watching a fifteen-minute YouTube video about what the next Spider-Man movie is going to be like. (I never do that last thing, obviously. I just try to use diverse examples so as to engage diverse readers.)
Exercise that makes me sweat does a similar thing to my anxiety as drinking a beer.
This is just me. But I do consistently find that taking a just-past-comfortable run is excellent at releasing internal pressure. Not as delicious, but way better for me in terms of sleep at night and energy levels the next day.
In short, we're talking about exercise as a path to depressurization — not a path to achievement.
It's a counter-cultural idea so it needs to be said.
How to do it at school
All right — thanks to our newly established low bar for exercise (using the body), it's not too hard to do this at school.
Set up a standing desk for your computer.
I had a sensitive lower back for years. Standing up more seems to have really helped that.
Unfortunately, my standing desk has cost my district an exorbitant amount of money to purchase.
Take a five-out-five-in walk during your prep time or after school.
Walk the hallways during your prep.
My relentlessly positive colleague Eddie Johns does this a lot. It's nice. I used to go on regular hallway walks with another friend of mine, Glen London, when we were teaching remotely from school for a couple months last year.
This also gives you a chance to get some random moments of genuine connection in with folks you might not normally see. Another depressurizer.
How to do it at home
Good news: all the above strategies work at home.
Just switch out hallways for your block and Eddie Johns for your next-door neighbor or one of your kids or your spouse.
Exercise doing something you like.
Me? I actually do like running when it's nice out. When it's negative 100 degrees and grey for half the year (I live in Michigan), then I don't like it as much. So, me and exercising don't see each other as much in the winter.
But you might enjoy:
- Using the workout room at your school, if it has one
- Going to a gym
- Riding your bicycle
- Taking walks
- Joining one of those super-expensive gym cults
Get a sweat going.
Enjoy the process.
At this stage of my life, I want exercise to just be something I do to rehearse the idea that I'm a soul, which means I'm partially a body. If I don't use my body, I atrophy — and this feels like aches and pains, pressure and stress. I'm trying not to care about how fast I run or how far I walk; instead, I just want to exercise in simple, sustainable ways, and find joy and release in the act itself.
And as I'm doing it, I smile at the fact that this is an age-old method for depressurizing the soul via the body. This is my rebellion against the Workload-Pressure Cycle in my life. I do this on behalf of my family, my students, and myself  .
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- This is a footnote. 🙂
- My independent study student Mia thought this was quite hilarious.
- If you're wondering about that big ol' monitor: I splurged on it during remote teaching with my own money, and I've never looked back. It was $170 on Amazon, and I've regretted the purchase for exactly zero seconds of my life.
- Got so much work that you don't have time for this practice? Try the following posts on making workload behave:
- A Shift then a Skip: Here's How One Teacher's Job Changed with a Simple Change in Thinking
- How to Get Better at Satisficing as an Educator
- The Best Question for Helping You Simplify Lessons, Curricula, Policies, or Procedures
- A Few Helpful Ideas for Resting as an Educator
- Let's Pick Some Sled Dogs
- We're Too Hospitable to Pointlessness
- To Decide is to Cut
- I'm currently working on a spring 2022 PD experience that's going to help with one of the biggest stressors for secondary teachers in the world today: student motivation. Want first dibs? Sign up here + get my new student motivation checklist.