In this installment of the Healthy Teacher Series: 7 Tips to Battle Stress and Finding Your Chair, we will take a look at how you can battle teacher stress before it gets out of control. As the wife of a police officer, I have stress in my life. Add to that the daily tasks and decisions I had as a teacher and you have a time bomb ticking away! My husband used to tell me to “find my chair”. This saying is etched in my brain. Finding your chair means finding that happy place..that big comfy chair. So, how do you find the thing that makes you forget reality and lets you turn your brain off…even if for a brief moment?
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As the wife of a police officer, I have stress in my life. Add to that the daily tasks and decisions I had as a teacher and you have a time bomb ticking away! Click To Tweet
Teacher Stress 101
We all know teacher stress is a type of stress only a select few can understand. When it’s that time of year (or all year) and your to do list is a thousand bullet points long, what do you do? If you’re like most of us, you probably start to stress.
Stress creates pressure and while some level of pressure is good, stress can be harmful because it can affect your mental health making you feel anxious or depressed. This can create a huge issue when it comes to sleeping or staying away. It actually creates a cycle that looks like this:
- Make a huge to do list.
- The list is overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.
- Add more to the already huge to do list.
Sometimes stress can have the opposite effect and make it impossible to sleep and the cycle then looks like this:
- Make a huge to do list.
- You start the list but can’t do anything 100%.
- Freak out all night
- Don’t sleep
- Feel like zombie
This cycle can be dangerous to your health and can start to trickle down into other parts of your life. What you really need to do is find your “chair” which is anything that you can do for yourself to help you stay calm and not freak out. Your chair can literally be anything from getting coffee to getting a pedicure or going to the shooting range; the point is you are taking care of yourself. In the meantime, here are 7 tips for battling teacher stress.
Battle Teacher Stress Tip 1: Be A Detective
One of the best things you can do for ourselves when you are stressed out, is identify the source of stress. While teacher stress is a special kind of stress, we are all still moms, dads, brother, sisters, significant others, etc. So the first thing you should always do is identity why you are stressed out. Then ask yourself if it is something that you can change. If you’re at school and you’re freaking out about your in-laws coming to town, there’s nothing you can do about that now. Try to set aside worries that you can’t do anything about and keep work and school separated. In other words, worry about home at home and worry about school at school. I know this is way easier said than done, but by separating the two, you only have one focus and you can battle teacher stress.
Battle Teacher Stress Tip 2: Write It Out
“To Do” lists, as frustrating as they can be, are life savers! The big thing to remember about to do lists is they have to be manageable. You cannot create world peace in a day as sweet as that would be. Think about what HAS to be done today and put that on the “Have To” list and then have a second “Get To” list. On the “Have To” list put, things that are vital to get done at this moment in time. On the “Get To” list, put things you get to do IF you get everything else done first. Even if what you get to do is color code some lesson plans, that’s something that doesn’t have to go on the “Have To” later on. Creating a manageable to do list really helps battle teacher stress.
Battle Teacher Stress Tip 3: Just say NO!
If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time with a two letter word: no. When a colleague asks me for help, I often say “sure” or “yes” without even thinking. Before you say yes or no to someone, think about what you have to do and then make a decision. If you have time and you can help, great! Please, always help someone when you can. But in order to keep your teacher stress to a minimum, if you have to say no, that’s ok too. Say no if you don’t have time or have too much on your plate already. Your colleagues will respect your decision and appreciate a less stressed you.
Battle Teacher Stress Tip 4: Vacay all day!
Some of us don’t take our personal days every year. Also, Some of us just go to school no matter what is happening in our lives. Stop doing that! As hard as it is to be gone, you need your mind to stay sane and healthy to keep functioning. If you are overwhelmed with things at home or at school or a special event or project just got done and you just need a day, take a day! It’s ok to do something for your own personal and mental health and you need to do that. Make your personal day whatever you want it to be. So, if that means you’re chilling at home watching Criminal Minds and eating chocolate all day, rock on! Call me we’ll veg out together! To battle teacher stress, we need to take time for ourselves. No shame.
Battle Teacher Stress Tip 5: Sunday not so fun-day!
If you are a procrastinator (like many of us are) and wait till Sunday to get things done, you could be creating unneeded teacher stress. As much fun as it is to bolt out the door at 3:30 on Friday, it’s better to have Saturday and Sunday to just relax. If you want to avoid the “Sunday Blues” get everything done on Friday before you go. So, If you are struggling to find something to finish out a few exercises, pull out your emergency binder full of activities that you made after reading the blog on organization. Having a full weekend to not think about school is a great way to battle teacher stress.
Battle Teacher Stress Tip 6: Leave It At The Door
This is one of the hardest ways to battle teacher stress there is but it’s one of the most beneficial: leave school (work) at school. Do everything you need to for school at school except under special circumstances like upcoming conferences. It’s hard to do, but leaving school at school and saving precious home time for family is vital for to battle teacher stress.
Battle Teacher Stress Tip 7: Remember!
It’s a simple word, remember. However, it’s an important thing to do. Remember why you came into the teaching world. It’s often a thankless job but the reward is always amazing. Getting to influence the lives of young girls and boys every day of your life is something that will make a forever impact. So, when you think you can’t take anymore, look up from that massive to do list and look at those desks, envision the students in them and remember why you do what you do: the students.
Managing teacher stress is not easy and it’s never going to be easy but we can create ways to help battle that stress and make our lives way easier. The most important thing is you! You have to find ways to keep yourself happy. So, find your chair and take advantage of it. The world needs you to be at your best.
Did you miss the previous posts in this Healthy Teacher Series? Check them out below and catch up!
Healthy Teacher Series Part 1: The Why
Healthy Teacher Series Part 2: The Food
Healthy Teacher Series: Part 3 – 9 Easy Exercises for Teachers
Healthy Teacher Series: Part 4 – Getting Organized in the Classroom
Do you have a “chair”? Maybe it’s crafting, scrapbook, or perhaps you like to veg out and binge watch Netflix! Share your “chair” below and perhaps you can help a fellow teacher discover theirs.