My daughters start school next week! It might just be that I’m a sucker for new beginnings. To me, every new school year is a new opportunity, a chance to start over. Everything is new and fresh! New classrooms, new binders, new highlighters! I don’t know about you guys, but I love fresh starts, a new season, new month, new week, new day! No matter how terrific or rough last year was, it is over, you have a new chance!

I always loved new school years when I was a preschool director and a teacher. New children, new families, new bulletin boards….don’t even get me started on the bulletin boards, those took hours to assemble and as much planning time as a Royal Wedding!

But, whether you’re a student, parent, director or preschool teacher (and if you’re extra special sometimes you are a combination of these) while exciting, a new school year can also be a tad overwhelming. A new school year often comes with is high expectations, feeling like we need to be perfect, to not mess up. We don’t want to make any mistakes that could ruin our “perfect year.” If you’re a parent you must pack the best lunches….I start off doing this, then somewhere between October and November I end up packing leftover breakfast waffles, chips and fortune cookies. If you’re a director, you feel pressure to please every parent, teacher and child. You are working crazy hours and hoping that no one has noticed the cot behind your desk because you’ve realized, “it’s just easier to live here, then to commute!” If you’re a teacher, you want your room to be the best, the kids to be engaged and to have zero parent complaints. Which yes, that would be awesome but how are you going to pull that off while also labeling every piece of equipment in your room? No matter which role we are in, we are going to make mistakes. Things are sometimes going to feel overwhelming and messy. I don’t know about you guys, but I make mistakes and I’m not always graceful. When I dropped my son off at kindergarten, trying not to cry as I left the classroom, I stepped into metal trash can that I proceeded to drag out of the room with me but hey, I didn’t cry in front of him! I don’t always have the best day ever, so reminding myself to reset, and start over after a rough day is important.

The thing to remember here when you, your teacher’s or your kids are starting off this school year is that not every week has to be a touchdown! Sometimes a field goal, heck even an onside kick is all you need. And even a turnover isn’t the end of the world. The game isn’t over!

And so, just in case you have a day, week or month when you feel like you’ve fumbled, or you just feel completely overwhelmed, here are a few steps that always help me get my groove back. They might just help you too!

  • Take a Walk- It might be the last thing you feel like doing, but a long walk—or even a short one—to clear your head and get your blood flowing is one of the best things you can do. There is a ton of research that says spending time outdoors is a proven mood booster, as is exercise. I also find it helpful an inspiring podcast to help clear my head. When I have a tough day at work, I walk around the block, the parking lot, the neighborhood, walk until you feel better!
  • Take Five Deep Breaths- Research has shown that we tend to breathe more shallowly when we are stressed, which only compounds our feeling of anxiety. However, taking a few minutes to breathe deeply has been shown to instantly reduce stress. Before you raise your voice, cry or storm out of a room, pause and breathe.
  • Make A List- If your mind is racing with all the things you have on your plate right now, the best thing you can do is get those things out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Set the timer for 15 minutes and quickly jot down every obligation or to-do item that comes to mind.
  • Now Reduce That To-Do List- Once you’ve got all the to-dos out of your head, it is time to analyze and prioritize. When things are in our head, the less important things tend to take up just as much space and mental energy as the critical things, causing us to feel overwhelmed. But once we can get them into a place where we can see them, it is a whole lot easier to separate the most important tasks from the ones that can be put off until later or better yet, be done by someone else!
  • Phone A Friend- Another benefit of getting your list on paper is that you might be able to more easily see which items you could delegate to someone else, such as a co-worker, Assistant Director, friend or family member. I like to look at that to do list and ask myself the following question, is this task something I could automate, eliminate or delegate? If it is any of those 3, do it, so many items on our daily lists could be automatically done for us, handed off to someone else, or wait for it….eliminated completely! For more on this, get my free printable Not to Do List here.
  • Get More Sleep- This is a big one! While our temptation might be to sleep less so we feel like we can get more done, there is no better cure for feeling overwhelmed than a good night’s sleep. Research also shows that once you have lost out on sleep, it is impossible to “catch up.” So, do your best to go to bed the same time each night, and get 7-8 hours of solid sleep.
  • Purchase A Sound Machine- This one might sound a little crazy but trust me it works. My youngest goes to play therapy once a week, I love her therapist and her office. I often walk in feeling stressed from my long day at work but as soon as I sit in her lobby, I feel calm. At first, I thought maybe it was the exposed brick, the trendy rugs, the perfectly hung word art on the wall. But one day I realized as I was sitting there, feeling all calm and inspired….I heard waves! Like full on at the beach in Destin waves. Turns out, she has an amazing sound machine that after searching for it on Amazon, I now have too! I will turn in on when I need some calming background noise and it always makes me feel at peace. I fully believe this works for children and adults of all ages!
  • Drink More Water- Like a lot more! How many ounces of water do you drink a day? My girl Rachel Hollis says you should take your body weight, divide it by 2 and when you get that number that is how many ounces you should be drinking. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you will drink 75 ounces of water a day. That is minimum, the more the better!

And so, my challenge for you during this back to school season, if you are off your game and like you don’t even know where to begin, is to try to implement at least one strategy listed above that works for you. Let me know what works best for you! And I hope this school year is full of new beginnings and touchdowns!