Thriving School Psych Thriving Students

Endorphins, Interrupted

I have been inspired by a fellow school psychologist to go to the gym before work. She goes at like 5am and at first I felt like she was a crazy person, but now I get it. One benefit is obviously good cardiovascular health, but let’s face it, that’s not the reason I set my alarm early 3 days a week now. The true benefit is I feel like I can be that Braggy Bragerson gal who says casually, “Oh, I work out before work to get it out of the way,” like it’s totally easy. That and the endorphins. Truthfully, it’s so not easy to convince yourself to get up almost 2 hours before you have to normally get up to go. But now, I’m totally hooked. I love coming home and not having to talk myself into going to the gym. Because truth be told, I’m totally wiped out after work. Husband knows that I need like 30 minutes of silence when I get home, since I have been talking and choosing my words carefully all day long. Any conversation about what came in the mail, which contractor is coming to the house when, and important dinner decisions come after I have relaxed alone for a few minutes.

The only drawback to my work out before work plan (besides the obvious driving to the gym and actually working out) is that they have horrible TV at my gym and there is no escaping it. There are 10 televisions telling me how dangerous and tragic the world is (aka, the news). What offends me at the gym is that I have to look at the worst 15% of humanity on the morning news shows, 100% of my workout. A sample from this morning’s workout included war, murder, fires, kidnappings, and even DEADLY COCONUTS falling from trees in Indonesia. And I simply cannot stop myself from reading the horrible financial news ticker. Why? Why can’t I avert my eyes? Why do all the machines point at the news? It totally kills my endorphin buzz and is not a good start to my day, where I go on to deal with tragedies in public education and the community. I’m full of vicarious trauma before I even get to work. Boo.

Today, however, I found a solution. It is much better than my original thought of getting those visual blinders horses have on their faces so traffic and the world isn’t so scary. Not a good look. I found one machine on the veeeeerry end of the gym that points toward a TV that has only teen sitcoms. Ahhhh. The soothing mild drama of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed is much better for starting my day. I learn something every day. Sure, it’s almost always “Careful what you wish for!” but its better for my psyche than “Our world is going to hell and by the way, look out for deadly coconuts!”

If we’re not careful, like watching the news, we can get jaded into thinking there is no good news in education or in our jobs. As school psychologists are well aware, no one refers kids who are doing well to us. “Hey, you’re excelling and feeling great about yourself–go see Dr. B right away!” Not so much. We see the most severe 15% of the school population 100% of the time, which can leave one thinking that every child has issues if you don’t check yourself.

I solved my endorphin buzz kill at the gym. Now if only I could find time in my day to see how the other 85% of the students NOT referred to me are doing to keep positive…Do share your strategies! Just don’t say go to the gym EVERY day. Mama needs her sleep sometimes.

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Comments on Endorphins, Interrupted

  1. Music is always great to work out with, but first thing in the morning, it's often "too much." That said, if you aren't worried about how much "bouncing" you are doing relative to a stationery tv, you can get a better workout as your fitness improves just listening instead of listening and watching.

    Consider podcasts (NPRs Wait Wait Don't Tell Me has a positive effect on my mood, generally, even if there is news in it), and audiobooks! I get a lot of non-fiction- history books, science, stuff I never have time to read otherwise- from Audible, I find getting engrossed in some topic makes me want to use every last minute to workout, and I feel like I get to "read" more books, and sometimes in the evening when I am just wiped I can do something I want to do and something I should do at the same time. No one will judge if you go for trashy novels, though, whatever makes workouts more pleasurable encourages you continue even when you have a case of the "don't wannas."

  2. Aimee says:

    I agree 113% about the awful early morning TV at the gym. It's either the news, sports recap shows, or infomercials (why WHY would you set a TV to infomercials?!). If you're coordinated enough, try reading a book or magazine. I find, like the commenter above, I get engrossed in what I'm reading, which not only averts the bad TV dilemma, but also makes the workout go MUCH faster.

  3. teacherbeth says:

    Excellent point about the 15%. I have to make an effort to spend just a little time, every day, at least saying hello to kids who aren't losing their @#$t or flailing academically. It's hard, because that's not really part of the job description, but it's so needed. Maybe make a point, when you're doing a triennial eval, to spend a couple minutes interacting with the target student's peers? You can say it's in the name of a more holistic assessment…

  4. Sioux says:

    This would probably not work, but I wonder if you could collaborate/scheme with a regular ed teacher to "rig" or conjure up some quick activity for a whole-class to do (something involving drawing and writing about their feelings/abilities or reading a short picture book to a small group and leading a discussion involving your kiddos as well as some of the "others"). You could get some feedback/information on the students you're focusing in on, and would also get re-energized resulting from the interaction with the other students.

  5. I am one of those wake up at 4am nerds. (Yes, I even posted my workout stats on my blog last spring.)

    I am a full believer that the first workout per week is not even to get in shape, it just counter-acts the stress of the week.

  6. Every now and then I get asked to do a Spanish gifted evaluation in our neighbor state (my state does not recognize gifted as a special education category), and it's so much fun!

  7. Danielle says:

    do you have any posts about your experience getting your doctorate?

    or could you do one 🙂 pretty please?

    thanks very much!
    -girl with bachelors of psych who always wanted to become a psychologist but took 2 years off after getting married and moving to Australia and is thinking of moving back to the U.S. to do my PhD in Clinical psych!

  8. Anonymous says:

    my gym has an early morning weight-lifting class once a week that is amazing. it's not as jarring as a.m. cardio, it's sort of a slow-to-warm-up class, but all day after there is a slow burn that keeps me feeling awesome. and no t.v. in the class. there are also early morning yoga classes out there. or do a weight circuit. which is all advice you didn't ask for, but…

    at work… i've been teaching things like "Engines", "S'cool Moves" and "Brain Gym" to whole gen ed classes that also house my students-in-need. everyone benefits, including myself. 20-30 minutes a week for 3-5 weeks, per class. it doesn't have to be time-intensive, and i also think it is great, b/c loads of other students learn who i am and that makes it less obvious that i'm there for sped kids – it helps protect the rep of the kids i evaluate.

  9. Lanna says:

    Get a massage after work from your husband. 🙂

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