Some of my readers are fellow teachers, some service the special needs population in other ways, some are parents and family members, some are just curious, but all of you are human…and so am I.
Since I am a human, I feel these crazy things called emotions. You know, those things that we teach to our students, children, etc. with ASD until we’re blue in the face. And for those of us who work directly with people who have ASD, we have to “feel” and “show” our emotions near perfectly because we are role models; a living lesson. (And I know that my students must be learning something because they are excellent at identifying and correcting how I SHOULD handle things if the rare occasion happens that they bust me going about my emotions incorrectly!! 😉 ) Well, sometimes I suppress so many emotions throughout the day because I working in “happy” or “hyper-focus” mode, that I find myself feeling kind of confused about what I’m actually feeling when I get a chance to stop and actually FEEL it. Does this ever happen to any of you??
I can find myself staying 1-2 hours after the work day has ended, feverishly working on lessons, strategies, social skill materials, and other things, that by the time I get home at 6 or 7pm I’m in a blur. I’ll get in, put my bags down, pop a microwave dinner in, and think “Wait, what do I need to do next?” It’s like my hyper-focus during the school causes me a temporary executive functioning issue when I get a chance to unwind. I feel as if I have to tell myself things that I would say to my students…something like:
“Hey, you had a really rough day! Two kids had major meltdowns. It’s kind of unexpected for you to walk around smiling like that…people are going to think you are crazy.”
“Whoa, it is not an expected response to laugh about that fact that you just spilled hot tea on yourself. Wipe it up and stop laughing. You are being weird!”
“The computer spontaneously deleted your entire narrative 15 minutes before your biggest IEP meeting of the year. You may have said ‘no biggie’ at school, but that’s a HUGE deal. It’s ok, you can be mad now…or just cry.”
Sounds totally ridiculous right?? I certainly hope that at least one of you reads this and doesn’t think I’m a committable lunatic, and instead feels understood! All of this talk of emotions brings me to the real reason I’m writing today…How do we self-regulate our own emotions when we’ve been regulating other’s all day?
I wanted to share one of my favorite ways! I love to use the book “Wreck This Journal.” It’s actually a book with the purpose of being destroyed. It’s the perfect place to let out many of those emotions you absolutely cannot show during the school day. I’ve also found that it pulls me out of my hyper-planned, type A, personality. I’ve attached a few snapshots of it below. My favorite, but also least favorite page, was the one that asks you to crack the spin. When I saw that page it was like the book had just asked me to do something vile and unspeakable. I HATE when the spin on a book is broken, it drives me crazy! But I must say that cracking the spin on my journal had to be one of the most liberating things I could do.
I hope that you check out the journal. It can be found at Target and Barnes and Noble and it’s fairly cheap. I’ve toyed with the idea that it may be helpful to my high school students as well. I haven’t decided yet because allowing them opportunities to get out their anger has to be done careful…otherwise it can blow up into something much bigger than you wanted. Some of the pages ask you to spit, stab holes in the page, etc. and I think they’d have to be removed first.
All in all, I hope that you could benefit from a book like this, or just the knowledge that someone else loses themselves after a day of playing super human!