Summer vacations are over, and students across the country are back in school. Around this time especially, American teachers, according to a Gallup State of America’s Schools Report, find themselves feeling overworked, stressed out and under-appreciated. Not only does this make life harder for teachers, it also leaves students feeling less excited about learning. With kids back in the classroom, here are some stress management techniques for teachers that can help everyone have a successful school year.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to organize your life and your schedule. Life seems to be increasingly busy, especially for teachers, with greater demands and fewer resources. Organize everything from your personal schedule to your classroom using today’s technology tools. A smart phone and tablet are a vital part of today’s classroom and should be a vital part of your stress management techniques. Use your calendar for not only appointments but also for reminders and grocery lists. Calendar blocking allows you to reserve blocks of time on your calendar for specific tasks. This tactic helps you save time and become more productive.
There are a multitude of apps available for teachers that can help you organize your life, your time and your classroom. Some, such as Classtree, help you get paperless consent while others, such as Slack, help you organize your teaching team.
2—Eat Well and Exercise
Don’t rush off to school without getting a good breakfast. One great suggestion is to prepare breakfast sandwiches on the weekend to eat before you leave each weekday morning.
Exercise is also vital to a healthy mind. Teachers often complain that finding 30 minutes of spare time is difficult. Getting in that 30 minutes might be easier in 10-minute blocks of time. Perhaps you can go out during recess and walk the playground for 10 minutes. Maybe you can ride your bike to work, or park at the far end of the parking lot and walk. If you have a study period, walk up and down the stairs for the first 10 minutes. Get up and take activity breaks with your students. You will find that the 10-minute breaks may help everyone. While it takes discipline, the health benefits of those 10-minute exercise bursts throughout the day will start to pay off in stress reduction.
3—Take Time for Family and Friends
Don’t spend every weekend working. Don’t wait for vacations and holidays to get away. Taking time out to meet a friend for coffee on a Saturday morning will help to alleviate stress. Those lesson plans will look easier to tackle after a bit of distance. A cuddle session with a little one—or a furry family member—can also make stress feel much lighter.
4—Take Time for Yourself
Taking time for yourself is a key stress management technique for teachers. The time to regroup and refresh is imperative. It also comes in many different ways. You need to get plenty of sleep. According to WebMD, sleep loss is a public safety issue and causes serious health problems.
But sleep isn’t the only way you need to make time for yourself. Set aside time for a hobby. Perhaps you enjoy going for a run in the evenings or want to pick up the camera and photograph the neighborhood on the weekends. Maybe you prefer watching old movies. Whatever hobby you choose, take time to enjoy it. “Me time” is an important part of stress relief.
One of the hardest things for teachers is saying “no” to extra commitments. By their nature, teachers like helping others. But sometimes saying no can actually help alleviate stress. Scholastic education experts since 1920, suggests four ways to say no:
- The Gracious No: “I really appreciate your asking me, but…”
- The Apologetic No: “I wish I could, but…”
- The Simple and Direct No: “Thank you very much, but…”
- The Leave the Door Open No: “I’d love help, but my schedule is full right now, but…”
By learning stress management techniques, teachers can help make their personal and professional lives happier and healthier. With more control and a better outlook on life, teachers can learn ways to reduce their own stress, while helping their students feel excited about learning.