5 Tips for Anxious Flyers

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In the past I've shared with you that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder as well as panic attacks, and many of you have shared with me that you experience the same thing! For me, and for many of you, flying can be a trigger. One of the great things about being a teacher is having breaks that are perfect for traveling, but if your anxiety is keeping you from flying, you may not be taking the best advantage of your time to travel.

I used to fly without any problem up until Thanksgiving 2016. On the way home from Richmond, Virginia, I had a terrible panic attack while on the plane. I was hysterically crying and trying to get my husband to let me go talk to the pilot to try to get them to land the plane. Part of the vicious cycle of panic attacks is that the fear of having a panic attack can actually make you have one. Thus, I was afraid to fly again, knowing I might have that experience again. I knew never flying again wasn't an option for me, as both my own family and my in-laws live many states away. I fly up to 10 times a year, and even took a 24-hour flight to Indonesia in 2017, and have had to develop few strategies for dealing with my flight anxiety:

1. Wear noise canceling headphones. My therapist recommended these to me because I live across the street from a park and the sound of the creaky swing puts me over the edge sometimes. I quickly discovered they are the BEST on planes. You actually don't realize how great they are until you take them off for a second on the plane and are like, wow, this is hellish. In addition to dampening the roaring airplane noise, I think they also make you a bit more unapproachable, which is a pro in my book when on a plane.

2. Sign up for TSA precheck. I seriously cannot imagine flying without precheck. Even if you only fly a few times a year, it's soooo worth it. Since I have overall heightened anxiety before flying, the idea of having to wait in line and potentially miss my flight is the worst. With precheck, you can get to the airport an hour before, hop right in line, and usually be through security in 20 minutes or less. The interview was super simple and I haven't personally heard of anyone being denied.

3. Take your meds. First of all, I'm not a doctor and this is just my personal experience. That being said, all the others things on this list help, but to be honest, Xanax is the key for me. If you have a serious fear of flying, talk to your doctor. I used to have some level of pride about not taking meds, which in hindsight is absurd. Why suffer needlessly? I know my fear is irrational and unhelpful, and I would much rather be a little out of it for a few hours than have a panic attack on a plane.

4. Have a routine. Streamline your experience as much as possible to reduce unneeded uncertainties. I take the same carry-on suitcase and book bag every time. I have a toiletries case that stays permanently packed. When I get through security, the first thing I do is find my gate, and then go get a small iced coffee to keep the Xanax from making me fall asleep before it's time to board. Doing the same things, even if it's in a different airport, can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

5. Bring something you enjoy to do on the plane. I've started bringing my bullet journal, stickers, and highlighters on the plane and drawing out my monthly and weekly spreads every time I fly. It's something I really enjoy and I can do it on the plane without distractions. A light book, a podcast, or knitting are other great options!

What other things have worked for you? 

February Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Watch my unboxing to find out exactly what comes in the February Teacher Care Crate, and read below for more details!

Self Love Stickers Designed by me, this pack of 15 stickers is perfect for decorating your teacher planner or bullet journal. {Retail Value: $2}

Art Print This month's 5" x 7" art print was designed by Lindsey Paull of Miss Johnston's Journey. {Retail Value: $8}

Bath Bomb Your pink and gold bath bomb from The Sugar Shak Collection features a refreshing blend of fresh strawberries with a hint of warm vanilla, infused with skin loving butters & oils. {Retail Value: $3.50}

TEACH Keychain This handmade keychain features silicone and wooden beads, plus a cute little charm with TEACH engraved on it. {Retail Value: $12}

Rose & Frankincense Sheet Mask This organic cotton sheet mask from Flawless Professional Vegan Beauty is infused with soothing aloe vera and jojoba oil to instantly rehydrate the skin. {Retail Value: $4.75}

Striped Socks Your coral and charcoal striped socks will add a little pep to your step! {Retail Value: $6}

Self Care Index This zine from Free Period Press features an A-Z list of self care ideas with plenty of room for you to fill in your own favorites! {Retail Value: $6}

Sprinkle Dreams Chocolate Bar This delicious mini chocolate bar from Chuao Chocolatier has sprinkles and waffle cone bits inside! {Retail Value: $1.50}

You can still subscribe in time to receive the February Teacher Care Crate! Head to teachercarecrate.com and subscribe before February 14th! 

5 Resources for Black History Month from Black Authors

While we should be including and highlighting people of color throughout the year, Black History Month is a great time to put a special focus on the specific contributions of Black people. When possible, I think it is important to try to use resources authored by Black people when teaching about Black history and culture. I recently searched Teachers Pay Teachers for Black History Month resources, and did not see anything by Black authors on the first page! I gathered five resources perfect for Black History Month from Black authors for a variety of grade levels:

1. Black History Month in Kindergarten by Lanesha Tabb from Education with an Apron From Lanesha: "I tried to design [this resource] in such a way that students could have an introduction to the history of the black American in this country. From there, we celebrate lesser celebrated people in the areas of the arts, science, and inventors."

2. Influential Leaders in Black History from It's MoNique's World From MoNique: "I basically just wanted to insure that I was spending time highlighting Black Leaders and not just focusing on the struggles. I do mention different obstacles that each leader faced but my hope was that my kiddos would not just see Black people as poor, less than, and see us as people who are inventors, writers, actors, teachers... leaders." 

3. Black History Month Studies by Tamara Russell From Tamara's description: "This is probably my favorite topic to teach on all year! :) The bundle represents resources that I've been using and reworking for the last several years. It just gets to be more fun every time I share my love of this with my students! Included in this pack are my MLK Literacy Unit, my Underground Railroad Unit, and my MLK Sentence Scramble Freebie. There are also two packs of fluency passages. One is for high first grade the other is for high second."

4. Black History Month Research Passages by Princess Netherly From Princess's description: "Help your students go beyond learning about MLK and Rosa Parks for black history month. The passages are designed to give teachers flexibility in assigning students research."

5. Letter from Birmingham Jail & Call for Unity from Tanesha B Foreman From Tanesha's description: "In 1963, eight white clergymen wrote a letter condemning nonviolent protests happening in Alabama. From a jail cell, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr wrote a response to each argument presented by the clergymen. This letter contains some of Dr. King’s most recognized quotes such as, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” This unit focuses on analyzing arguments presented in the two letters, responding to various text dependent questions, and participating in a Socratic seminar." {for 8th-10th grade students}

Whether you use these specific resources or not, I hope you make an effort to seek out Black authors and creators when teaching Black history this month and throughout the year. 

January Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Watch the video to see all the items that comes in this month's Teacher Care Crate, and read below for more details on each item!

Art Print: Designed by me, this 5" x 7" professionally printed art print is perfect for displaying on your desk or in the teacher's lounge. {Retail Value: $8}

Joy Journal: Record what makes you happy in this Joy Journal from Personal Pep Talk. {Retail Value: $5}

Bath Bomb: This Mystic Mermaid bath bomb from Fifi and Kiki's Bath Company will add some sparkly vibes to your bath. {Retail Value: $3}

Washi Tape: Use this gold glitter to decorate your planner or hang your art print. {Retail Value: $2}

Sleep Meditation: This month's crate includes a card from Yoga for You which links to a guided sleep meditation. 

Earrings: These faux druzy earrings from MG Designs will add some sparkle to your day! {Retail Value: $8}

Granola Bar: Stash your Chocolate Almond Sea Salt granola bar from Kashi in your desk for when you need a healthy snack. {Retail Value: $1}

Vapor Rub: This all natural vapor rub from Blue Oak Farm is wonderful for soothing congestion and smells great too! {Retail Value: $10}

Sleep Mask: Use your adorable sleep mask to get to sleep faster. {Retail Value: $9}

The January crate is all sold out, but head to teachercarecrate.com on January 25 at 8 pm EST to subscribe starting with the February crate! 

8 Organization Faves for the Classroom from Amazon

This post contains affiliate links.

We all know staying organized is key when it comes to keeping classroom clutter at bay. Check out some of my organization faves, all available on Amazon!

1. Small Parts Storage The little drawers are perfect for holding brag tags.

2. Sterilite Baskets I bought 12 of these baskets my first year of teaching and have used them for so many things! They're perfect for leveled readers or printed books, but I've also used them for centers bins.

3. Wall Organizer  Get your weekly copies or other paperwork off your desk and somewhere you can see them at a glance with a wall organizer.

4. Command Hooks My organization strategy is to hang anything that can be hung. Seriously, I have a huge pegboard in my home office! You can use command hooks for hall passes, flashcards, pocket charts, and more.

5. Teacher Toolbox A teacher toolbox is definitely a must-have! Clear off all the bits and bobs on your desk, from paper clips to band-aids, in a pretty toolbox.

6. Expanding File Organizer I use expanding organizers to hold my weekly phonics lessons. I prefer them to a binder because they can hold pocket chart cards and other small pieces without worrying about them slipping out. 

7. Rolling Cart These rolling carts are so useful! If you're short on shelves, you can use one as a sight word station. It also makes a great "command center" for storing class-wide items like tissue, hand sanitizer, and pencils.

8. Paper Organizer This is one of my all time favorite purchases! It's such a delight to see your Astrobrights all pretty and organized. 

Don't have Amazon Prime? You can try it out with a free 30-day trial here!

December Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Watch the video to see all the items that comes in this month's Teacher Care Crate, and read below for more details on each item!

Art Print: This month's 5 x 7 art print was designed by Jess Golz of Teacher Golz and Ink Chicago{Retail Value: $8}

Knitted Headband: Use this maroon headband to keep your ears warm all winter long! {Retail Value: $12}

Mint to Be Balm: Handcrafted by Me Time Botanicals, this balm is perfect for dry hands and feet. {Retail Value: $12}

TEACH ornament: Your handmade ornament from Cabin20 Creations can be displayed on a Christmas tree if you celebrate, or up in your classroom all year long! {Retail Value: $10}

Peppermint Cocoa Lip Balm: This delicious smelling lip balm from Shade Tree Naturals is perfect for swiping on between classes. {Retail Value: $4.50}

Christmas to Color: This activity book includes holiday postcards, gift tags, and ornaments you can color as you relax over break. {Retail Value: $9.99}

The December crate is all sold out, but head to teachercarecrate.com on December 26 at 8 pm EST to subscribe starting with the January crate! 

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues as a Teacher

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

You get up and go to school and it's dark and freezing. When you leave school, it's also dark and freezing. Then you repeat, only seeing the sunlight on the weekends, and even then, it's still freezing. Sound familiar? If you find yourself suffering from the winter blues, try these tips:

1. Invest in warm clothes & outerwear. If you live somewhere freezing like me (Chicago!) go ahead and get the warmest of everything you can find. When I first moved here and bought $200 snow boots from L.L. Bean, it was the most expensive clothing purchase I had ever made. But this is my fifth winter wearing them every day, and L.L. Bean even fixed them for free for me when the back seam busted (I walked a mile plus to and from public transit every day). #worthit #notsponsored

2. Plan a trip or staycation. If it's in the budget, plan a quick trip somewhere warm over a long weekend. If it's not (and realistically for most teachers, it's not), try a "staycation" somewhere warm close by. My new favorite thing is to spend the day at the Korean spa. It's $35 for a day pass ($24 if you get your pass at the Asian grocery store next store, which obviously I do) and it's full of hot baths and saunas. No affordable spas near by? Try indoor botanical gardens or a conservatory. 

3. Exercise. Getting up and moving might be the last thing you feel like doing, but we all know it can energize you and boost your mood. If you hate the gym like me, try a yoga class or even a fitness video on YouTube. I find it especially effective to schedule that ish! I go to yoga twice a week on the same nights, which keeps me from having to re-motivate myself to go each time because it's already on the schedule.

4. Get a SAD lamp. While light therapy lamps are technically for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, they can help the rest of us soak up a little faux sunlight too. I would put mine on as I was getting ready in the morning and eating my breakfast before going to school.

5. Stay social. Chicago winters make me want to curl up in a blanket and leave my apartment never. BUT ultimately this isn't going to help your mood, though of course you should rest when you need to! Try organizing a staff happy hour or attending a weekly club or class.

While hopefully these tips will help you get out of a winter funk, if you find you are suffering from depression during the winter months, be sure to talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing! 
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