When Anxious, Add Humor

Sometimes people think that we hide behind our humor….or “laugh” off our mental illnesses. However, I like to say that in order for me to sometimes truly live my life and be more present and mindful, I MUST add humor to my day to day life.

As a teacher, and someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I often use my profession as a “vessel” for my weird sense of humor. Fifth grade seems to be a great age to do this with too! It is a great age to add crazy voices to your lessons, strange drawings on the board, and more! Here are some examples!

Show up one day with a different hair color and claim that aliens abducted the “old” teacher….because for a solid three days, they will STILL not be sure of who you are and will stare at you repeatedly.

Pull out random stuffed animals from your desk and make them talk in warped, evil voices to each of your students. This is best when one of your students is not paying attention and you have a Fiesty Pet nearby (those are those stuffed animals that make vampire faces if you squeeze their heads).

Have a microphone in the room, and without them watching (which is rare, because 5th graders ALWAYS watch you), begin pretending you are an airline flight attendant instructing students on the nearest exits and what to do when we lose cabin pressure. They will be very confused and it won’t have anything to do with the lesson, but it will definitely get their attention!

In the middle of a math lesson, randomly begin creating a detailed picture on the board using the numbers you just wrote. Numbers can become people and animals. Again, another attention getter!

When a student asks you a question that you just answered twelve times, turn and bang your head on the board. Loudly. This takes away any immediate frustration you feel toward that student, and it can make them laugh, which can make you laugh. See? Win-win.

Random dancing is always necessary in the classroom. Whether it is while waiting for a student to answer a question that they should know (like, what is 2 + 2?). It is best to do the dances that 5th grade students are familiar with….like those stupid ones from the newest video games. It was sooo much cooler in the 80’s. Sigh.

See…..these are all ways to add humor to your day. Even little things like saying “Sup?” instead of “Good morning student!” can make both you and the student laugh or smile. This isn’t about being unprofessional. I have been in this profession for over 16 years and I know all about when to be professionally appropriate and when to break the stiffness a bit.

Can this be applied to any job? I believe it can. It takes some creativity. I like to think of that movie Robin Williams played in, where he was a doctor and wore the clown nose to see his patients. I also like to believe that if someone else doesn’t like it, that means they are just jealous that you have some kind of sense of humor and they don’t.

When we have anxiety, our minds are usually on something else….or something else is trying to squeeze its way in. By adding humor to our day, it takes our minds off of our thoughts and random worries. It makes you feel better, even if it is only for a few minutes or a few hours. It is worth it.

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