On episode 6 of the More Than Teachers Movement podcast, Zach Long talks to Karen Milczynski about her experience as a Family & Consumer Science teacher. Karen shares how she finally recognized that she was burning out, what she did to battle back from burn-out, and the changes she made to reclaim balance in her life.
Who Is Karen Milczynski?
For the past 13 years, Karen Milczynski has been a Family & Consumer Science Teacher in Michigan. For those who don’t know what family and consumer science is, she explains that it’s a “modernized home economics” course. In her classes, Karen covers topics such as cooking, sewing, financial management, communication, goal setting, and stress management. After experiencing burn-out, she took steps to successfully reclaim balance in her life and thrive.
It took Karen a while (we’re talking years!) to recognize that she was experiencing burn-out. She missed signs like getting to know the evening janitors very well, and her assistant principal telling her “jokingly” to go home on a Friday night. Sometimes Karen was too tired to do the things she loved like cook dinner and walk her beloved rescue dog, Bongo. Other times, she did those things but then collapsed in exhaustion. As many teachers do, Karen just accepted that working long hours was part of the job. When things got tough, she would look around at other teachers and tell herself to suck it up.
Until, one day, Karen couldn’t suck it up anymore. Her personal life had also become unmanageable, and she was overwhelmed with anxiety and depression. When she couldn’t mentally or physically do the things that she had done before, she had to let go. Karen knew she was burned out.
The Battle Back
For Karen, a significant part of beating burn-out was attending weekly counseling sessions. Through the activities assigned by her counselor, Karen learned that her perception of time was skewed which, in turn, led her to have unrealistic expectations. She dealt with the guilt of not being able to do it all and learned to draw boundaries in her life. Karen also learned mindfulness techniques that worked for her (just ask her about making mandalas).
As Karen made progress mentally through counseling, she also began working on taking care of herself physically. She knew she needed to take better care of her body. Meal prepping and eating healthy became a priority. Exercising and getting outside became a priority. And as Karen made these changes, she found that she was sleeping better and had more energy. Today, Karen helps others by offering health and wellness mentoring for the body, mind, and spirit.
Get the recipe for her amazing apple cinnamon energy bites here.
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