No matter what your role is, stress is incredibly hard to deal with at the worst of times. It is definitely a part of every day life but that doesn’t mean we should let it contaminate the work space, affect our learners and colleagues. Here’s some ways to deal with your stress so that you can work towards a stress-free life.
1. Get a Head Start
Leave home 30 minutes earlier than normal. Studies find that the less rushed you feel in the morning, the less stressed you’ll be for the rest of the day. Getting that extra bit of time to get your classroom sorted, to catch up with other teachers over a coffee and just prepare mentally for the day ahead will give you a good mind set and prepare you for what ever may be thrown at you.
2. Bring Snacks
Bring a spill-proof coffee cup filled with your favourite brew to the office, and have a bag of nonperishable snacks on hand (try protein bars, dried fruit and nuts, juice boxes, or pretzels). Going for more than a few hours without a snack can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, and you’ll end up exacerbating stress. This way, even if you have to work through back-to-back classes, you’ll be able to grab some fuel.
Most of us don’t take enough time to praise ourselves for doing things well. So when you’ve completed an interim or long-term goal, tell yourself—out loud—what a good job you’ve done. You’ll get a burst of confidence that will go a long way towards helping you maintain your cool amid the workplace madness.
4. Schedule 10 Minutes of “Worry Time”
Close your classroom door or go sit in an empty room and think about what’s stressing you out. Bring a sheet of paper and divide it into three columns: My Worry; Why It Worries Me; Worst Thing That Could Happen. Once you confront the worst-case scenario, and realize that it probably won’t ever happen, you can get back to work with your worry load lightened.
5. Manage Your Email
With about 5.5 trillion emails sent each year, it’s no wonder your inbox is overflowing. To keep from stressing out, cut down the amount of time you spend reading and sending emails. Don’t waste a message acknowledging receipt of an email, and put responses in the subject when possible so you don’t have to compose a new message. Finally, use the “rule of three”: if you’ve gone back and forth on a topic three times and you’re still confused or have questions, pick up the phone.
Try lifting your legs up and stretching them for 30 seconds. This movement reduces the risk of blood clots that can result from sitting too long in one position. Another useful exercise is to put one arm behind your neck and stretch it by holding on to the elbow with the opposite arm. Switch sides and repeat.
7. Have a “Perspective Reminder”
Stress can overpower you at times, but your troubles are smaller than they seem. To remind yourself of that, keep a picture in your class —the earth taken from space, a starry night or the ocean—and look at it whenever you feel overwhelmed. Amid countless stars and the timeless crashing of waves against the shore, how important is that little worry, really? Don’t be so hard on yourself. Everything is relative and that means everything can be dealt with in one way or another.
8. Plan Ahead
When work is challenging, devote some of your down time, like weekends and evenings, to making a to-do list for the next week. Make a list, place boxes next to each item, and tick off the boxes as you get things done. You’ll avoid forgetting anything, you’ll stay focused on the job, and it’s very satisfying to tick off those boxes.
9. Socialize With Colleagues
Suggest a once-a-week gathering with your co-workers where you can talk about a particular issue, like trouble students or a classroom conflict that is affecting the environment of your classroom negatively. Use your collective brain to figure out how to do something better, enhance productivity, or improve relationships.
Make a display in your office to remind you of your personal life. Include pictures of your spouse, children, and pet, a photograph of yourself doing something fun, plus a memento that reminds you of a special occasion. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed and stressed out, take five minutes and simply enjoy the display. Recall the day each picture was taken. Hold your memento and return in your memory to the day you got it. Now you’re ready to return to work.
Most importantly – remember that your students feed off of your energy and being able to cope with your stress will reduce the chance of taking it out on those around you. Take a step back and just approach any challenge with a clear mind.