Stress Management and How to Reduce Stress: Teacher Edition

Muskaan Choudhary
July 17, 2024
5 min read

According to the annual Teachers Wellbeing Index report of 2020 by Education Support, around 63% of the education staff in the UK considered leaving their professions due the workload stress while 53% reported their mental health and well being as a factor.

Our educators were already facing a considerable amount of stress while the pandemic only worsened it. The education sector was shut down indefinitely and teachers were later left to figure out technology on their own. However, academics aren’t their only concern.

A teacher is expected to help students with almost every aspect of their life without any extensive help from the administration. This not only adds extra stress to their lives but also leads to multiple other issues like anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, and so on.

Stress up to this extent can only worsen their mental health which will indirectly affect students’ academics. Thus, it is extremely important to learn how to manage and cope with this stress in order to prevent a complete teacher burnout.

Symptoms of excessive stress:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Short temper
  • Extreme weight loss or gain

Though these are some of the common ones, there are some rather sneaky signs of stress you might need to look out for too.

Quick strategies to manage and reduce stress

If you manage to recognize the symptoms at an early stage, chances are they’ll be easier and quicker to manage. These are some strategies that will help you with the process.

🚩 Prioritize

In case you have a long list of tasks for the day, make a to-do or priority list. Ask yourself,

  • “What can I finish by the end of day?”
  •  “What is something that needs to be finished as soon as possible?”
  •  “Can this be left for another day?”

This way, you can set a list of achievable tasks for the day and later spend time with your friends and family without feeling any guilt. You can also keep a daily or weekly planner with you.

💡 Prepare

Preparing a night before can allow you to get more sleep in the morning while also making the whole ordeal a lot easier. Prepare a major chunk of your breakfast, your task list, your clothes for the day, a night before. You can also decide on a quick-to-prepare meal for the morning.

📚 Leave work at work

It does not matter if you could not complete your tasks for the day (and no, this does not mean we are asking you to slack off). If you are left with 5 assignments to grade or you could not complete that presentation even after a whole day of hard work, leave it at your desk. Go home and relax. Spend time with your loved ones. You can always come back to your work the next day with a fresher mind which will only help the case.

😴 Practice self-care

Take some time out of the day just for yourself. Let your colleagues and students know you would not be available during those hours. Not sure how to do so? Here are 3 simple ways to make an extra hour for yourself.

Within this time, you can do anything of your liking. Cycle, paint, exercise, spend time with your family or friends, the possibilities are endless.

☕ Reduce caffeine, smoking, drinking

If your brain goes “Long working hours? THE COFFEE POT.” This one is especially for you.

Coffee or anything with heavy amounts of caffeine will only give you a temporary boost of energy. As soon as that wears off, you will be left with even lesser energy and probably more stressed and irritated. It can also interrupt your sleep.

These are stimulants that can only offer you a temporary relief. Even though they might look tempting for now, try and cut down on those. They are extremely harmful in the long run if taken in excessive amounts.

✔️ Accept mistakes

Three simple, yet powerful words. Let it go. You made a mistake? You are human and every human makes them. Holding yourself accountable to it is important, but do not let them reside in your mind permanently.

Start with some self-affirmations and positive self-talk and gradually move on to learning from your mistakes. You can also ask other employees for help or take up some additional teacher training courses for help. All in all, be your own friend.

🛑 Set healthy boundaries

Learn to say “no”. Taking up newer opportunities like accompanying a field trip or supervision can seem exciting but you also need to remember your limits. Some teachers also find it hard to say “no” because they are either afraid it will hinder their future prospects or maybe it will come off as rude. 

However, it is important to only bite off as much as you can chew. Taking extra responsibilities at the cost of your personal or professional wellbeing is not the right path to go.

😌 Breathe

Lastly, we would want to remind you to just. Breathe. (We know you do already but do it properly) It is not as simple as you think. You can either refer to other breathing techniques or do it like the Navy SEALs, who we think know a bit about stress. They are trained with the “4x4” breathing technique. All you have to do is take a deep breath and hold it for four seconds, and then exhale evenly for four seconds.

You can also place your hands on your stomach to feel it expand and contract during the process. Continue with this for 2-3 minutes. It helps you regain control by bringing your racing heart rate down.  

In Conclusion

To wrap it up, stress is just another aspect of being human. Whether it be a new job, a new semester, or the start of a new term. How you manage stress is completely personal to you. Work on what you can control and let go of what you can’t. You can also refer to Stress-Management Activities and Worksheets for some extra help! Keep yourself motivated and that should do enough to keep your students motivated. 

Mental Health
Muskaan Choudhary

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