Stress management tips for teachers

While it’s difficult to find a completely stress-free job, at times it can feel like teaching is one of the most high-stress jobs out there. Between coming up with lesson plans, dealing with students acting out, discussing issues with concerned (and sometimes emotional) parents, and juggling an intense daily schedule, it’s easy to have things pile up. The problem is that internalizing so much stress for so long can eventually lead to exhaustion and burnout, which means a less rewarding career for you as a teacher.

But with so much else to focus on in your day to day, when can you find extra time for self care as a teacher? It can be a tricky balance to find, but it’s a necessary one in order to keep yourself calm and cool in the face of ongoing stress. Here’s a few tips to help teachers get their daily stress managed!

What stress management can you control?

It’s easy to get stressed out over something you have no control over. Once you start internalizing that lack of control, it’s a downward spiral into obsession over outside factors that you truly can’t change – and there’s no surer way to feel stressed out.

One tactic to help you cope with this is to create a list of things that are in your control versus what isn’t. By focusing on the “can control” list, you can better recognize what you do have power over (like your nutritional choices as a teacher, how you spend your free time, and so on) instead of what you shouldn’t be wasting energy worrying about. Also, sometimes it helps to have things written out (journaling is excellent for de-stressing), so writing out your list in a notebook is an added bonus when it comes to reducing anxiety.

What are some easy shortcuts to manage stress?

You don’t always have to do things the hard way! If you can find shortcuts for your work day, try them out to see if they help make your teaching life easier. Think about things like frustrating software – is there a new version you could install? If colleagues are constantly trying to book meetings with you at inopportune times, could you block off certain parts of your calendar to ease the pressure? If it’s possible to log off a bit early a few times a week in order to get some exercise, take advantage of that opportunity.

If there are workarounds or fixes you can implement, do so – they could make a huge difference on your stress levels and help things run more smoothly in your day to day. It’s all about looking forward and cutting out future stressors before they happen.

Are you able to make some time to disconnect from your stress sources?

Speaking of frustrating electronics, the digital world – including the pressures of social media – can definitely be the source of a lot of stress in our lives. And while it may be hard to disconnect from the online world, if you even try going a day or two without checking your social networks, you might find that your mental health improves for the better.

Also, if it’s possible, get outside and take a walk – even 10 minutes will do. Fresh air and a change in scenery (particularly nature) can help calm your thoughts and give you a sense of much-needed perspective where stress is concerned – especially if it’s the little things that are bugging you.

What impact could exercise have on stress?

As mentioned, if you’re fortunate enough to have some free time, consider working an exercise routine into your daily schedule. If you happen to be a morning person, you can set your alarm a little earlier and work in a quick run or yoga session. You’ll find it’s hard to keep obsessing over what’s stressing you out when you’re also focused on how your body feels while active. In fact, the body’s stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – are reduced by exercise, plus being active stimulates the production of mood-boosting endorphins!

Even if you don’t have time to be active every day, you can still try techniques like light stretching, desk yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises. One good exercise involves the following: “Place one hand on your belly, where your diaphragm is (right between your navel and your ribs). Place the other hand on your chest. You can close your eyes if you’d like, but you don’t have to. Breathe in deeply, filling your diaphragm first, then your lungs. Slowly exhale. Repeat, taking ten of these slow breaths.”

Don’t obsess over the perfect

Being a perfectionist is a common trait for teachers; at the very least, teachers tend to hold themselves to a high standard, which can sometimes be unhelpful in the fight against stress. This can be exacerbated when you add in (sometimes unwanted) opinions on your teaching from parents, superiors, and even students. Put all this together, and you can easily start feeling down about yourself.

However, your mental health is one of the most important aspects of your life, and it’s a necessity that you take care of it. You should always keep in mind that your own health is worthwhile, and it does nothing but cause unnecessary stress to try and strive for the perfect all the time. Go a little bit easier on yourself – you have a career that’s inherently rewarding, and it means so much to so many young minds. Do what you can and know that it’s enough!

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