Stress management tips for teachers
How do you manage your work-related stress?
Guest blogger Erika Murray gives Earwig her tips to stay sane …
Teachers are often rated amongst the top 5 most stressful professions. It’s common knowledge that the workload for a teacher never really ends. Between getting to school early, staying late, lesson planning, grading assignments, meetings, and countless other tasks it is a problem many teachers face trying to figure out live a balanced life.
A recent study found no significant difference in how teachers rated stress levels when comparing new teachers with more experienced teachers. Every year brings the same work load and brand new class to teach. New teachers have a very high turnover rate leaving many to decide on moving to a new profession in the first 5 years.
Work related stress can lead to a number of symptoms. Headaches, depression, indigestion, and poor sleep patterns are just some of the issues that can result from stress. In some cases stress can even lead to work related injuries from lack of attention to detail or rushing through a task. It’s important to deal with stress before it becomes a serious problem before it may cause you to question your employment decisions.
Here are a few ideas to keep your life in balance during the school year.
Teachers are often prepared well in advance for lessons and the school day. However, it is possible to improve how well you mentally feel prepared for the day as well. Getting up 15 minutes earlier for the day will allow you to have some personal time for yourself. Just a few minutes to wake up and stretch, or just enjoy your coffee and clear your mind can make a giant difference.
You should also prepare for your morning the night before. If your outfit is already picked out, lunch is packed, coffee pot is set and school supplies are ready at the front door It can make a giant difference in how rushed you feel in the morning. This simple change could allow you to arrive at school feeling less frazzled, and ready to take on whatever comes your way at work that day.
Try to use your time wisely. Block off time to grade papers and try to stick to it. Learn to say “no” more often to things that might not feel important to you. Set priorities for your day for both your job and personal life. Once you realize that it is ok to put tasks off that are not as urgent, it will be easier to focus on finishing the ones that matter today. You will also feel better to end the day feeling accomplished and not focusing on the feeling of having a never-ending to-do list. You also might find that you do not feel guilty about enjoying your personal time with friends and family after a long work day.
Find Your Stress Reliever
Everyone has a different way to unwind that works for them. Once you find a healthy way to de-stress make it a priority in your life and stick to it. Exercise can be an amazing way to have more energy at work, and get out the stress from your day at the same time. You do not necessarily need to run 5 miles a day to accomplish this, unless that is what you love. You can sign up for a gentle yoga class, start biking around your neighborhood, or go for a long walk after work a few times a week.
Mindful activities such as stretching, meditation, and aromatherapy are great practices to follow to alleviate stress. Maybe you find comfort just reading a book for pleasure that you have put off for months now. Some other people can disconnect by focusing on a project such as working on crafting or even something as simple as an adult coloring book. It doesn’t have to be intense or time consuming, but you should make it a priority to schedule in time for something you are passionate about.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Anyone with a stressful job knows that your diet can easily be ignored when you are busy. For some people this means finding comfort in food, and for others it can mean not making it a priority to eat throughout the day. Certain foods such as blueberries, nuts, turkey, leafy greens, dark chocolate, and salmon have been proven to reduce stress. Alcohol, dairy, foods with artificial preservatives, too much caffeine, high-sodium foods, and foods with refined sugar are not only unhealthy, but they can cause stress to your body. Working while bloated or full of the wrong foods can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable to make it through the work day.
Make it a priority to eat at meal times. You should always keep healthy snacks in your bag such as almonds, dark chocolate, trail mix, or chopped up veggies that you can pick at when you are too busy to sit down to a full meal at your normal eating times. Meal plan on Sunday so that you have an idea of healthy options for your work week ready, and if you can prep them ahead of time so they are ready to grab each day that will save you more time during the week. Save treating your cravings for unhealthy foods for evenings and weekends so it doesn’t slow you down during the work day.
With proper planning and prioritizing any teacher can find some relief in their stressful workday. Even experienced teachers can easily fall into a trap of ignoring these issues from time to time. It’s important to regularly re-evaluate how you’re feeling and what you can do to improve on it before it becomes a bigger problem.
With thanks to our GUEST BLOGGER: Erika Murray, Education Blogger