7 Stress-Reducing Strategies for Teachers
For a teacher, stress is almost guaranteed. There are always papers to grade, assignments to review and tough kids to deal with. With this certainty in mind, a teacher should always be prepared to respond to stressful situations … and how you routinely do that can make the difference between a long, happy and illustrious career or one that ends in frustration and burn out. Luckily, new research is leading the way to the development of new and innovative strategies to cope with stress. 7 of these strategies are listed below.
1. Identify the cause
You can’t manage stress effectively if you haven’t figured out what is causing it in the first place. Development manager for the Teacher Support Network Sandra Taylor suggests making a list of the things responsible for your stress. Identify things that are within your control and start tackling them one by one. You should start with what will have the most significant impact on your stress levels.
Obvious you say? Hmmm … try making the list and see just how hard that usually is.
2. Breathe properly
This strategy doesn’t sound groundbreaking at all. But the Navy Seals have taken this simple technique to new heights by adopting the 4×4 breathing technique. It involves breathing deeply for 4 seconds until you feel your stomach expanding out and then exhaling out evenly for 4 seconds. 2 or 3 minutes of this exercise during intense stress levels can help you regain control.
3. Accept your imperfections
Our desire for perfection stems from our feelings of inadequacy–the flawed thinking that we should be someone better than we already are. According to academic researcher Brene Brown, overly stressed individuals often exhibit this trait. Teachers often fall into this category of adults, who feel they haven’t achieved much in their lives and careers and, as a result, end up feeling overly stressed and unhappy. Perhaps you feel you could do better than just being a science tutor. If this is you, find a way to love yourself and what you do.
4. Nip the problem in the bud
A vicious stress cycle usually begins as a single thought. When we make mistakes or experience failures, we often fall into the trap of feeling sorry for ourselves and obsessing over our situations. Unfortunately, that only serves to worsen things. As Psychologists Guy Winch puts it, it would be like finding new ways to make a wound worse after getting a cut. When you find yourself ruminating on your failures or mistakes, try your best to get your mind off of them. Sometimes even a simple distraction will do the trick.
5. Be realistic
Sometimes we set very high targets for ourselves and end up disappointed when we don’t achieve them. When compiling a to-do list for the day, make sure you can handle the workload you intend to take on. Review your achievements at the end of the day. If you didn’t achieve a certain target, make sure you identify the reason why. If the reason is varied, don’t beat yourself up over it.
6. A little help can go a long way.
Sometimes we are too self-absorbed to admit we need help. No matter how skilled or experienced you are as a teacher, you will need help sometime. Asking for help doesn’t make you look weak; it means you are wise enough to know when you’re in over your head.
7. Embrace the stress
Why do you have to fight away the stress, why not just embrace it? This is the thinking Kelly McGonigal health psychologist wants teachers to adopt. According to McGonigal, viewing your stress positively will affect how your body chooses to respond and will, ultimately, reduce the physical damage effected on the body. Those who only see stress as a negative force suffer the same range of health complications experienced by smokers.
By adopting the strategies above, a teacher can deal with stress before it becomes overbearing. But they require both time and commitment. You should adopt them into your lifestyle slowly and steadily. Failure to effectively deal with stress in its budding stage by utilizing the strategies above can lead you into the “coping” mode. When that happens, you can end up just reacting and focusing on damage control instead of responding and adapting as it comes.
Annabelle is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their own community and beyond …. and we at How Things Work Science Projects hope you will check out their services if you happen to be in Singapore!