Some of the ways you can manage your stress in the classroom include:
- Setting yourself realistic targets
- Diarising your personal life
- Communicating well with your colleagues
- Exercising when you can
- Learning to say no
Whether you're a newly qualified teacher starting your career in education or an experienced teacher with years of experience behind you, the classroom can be a nerve-wracking place. Teaching can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be stressful at times and how you handle that pressure can be the difference between being happy at work or being demoralised.
According to a 2018 Randstad survey of over 2,100 teaching staff about mental health, 76% of those who described their mental health as 'poor' or 'very poor' blamed the cause of this on their workload, and the stress it caused. So, being able to handle the pressures of the classroom is key for both managing your own mental health, and allowing you to enjoy your time teaching.
Take a look at our 10 top tips to help you get on top of teaching pressure.
How to manage your stress.
Tip one: spend time with your colleagues.
The staffroom is a great place to relax with other teachers during break times and after school hours. You will likely form some strong friendships with different colleagues and be part of a support network which can help you through some of the tougher times. Make the most of it and bounce ideas off your colleagues. A problem shared is a problem halved, and sometimes just being able to talk things through with like-minded individuals who are facing similar pressures can help you to see things more positively.
Tip two: diarise your personal life, as well as your work.
It’s easy as a teacher to take your work home with you and to forgo family events so you can get on top of marking, for example. But, your personal life is just as important too. Diarise time with family and friends. Give it the same importance as work and stick to it.
Tip three: make the most of your leisure time - relax!
Everyone needs a break so make sure you take some time for yourself once your working day is over. It could be as simple as enjoying a coffee, reading your favourite book or listening to some great music. Whatever appeals to you, go and do it, enjoy the moment and relax.
Tip four: switch off.
The internet is a wonderful thing, opening us up to thousands of resources but it can also lead to information overload. Even if it is just for an hour or two, switch off your phone, power down the computer and ignore your emails. You’re not paid to be on call 24 hours a day so don’t feel you have to answer that email at 11pm when you’re in bed.
Tip five: workload getting on top of you? Communication is key.
If you are feeling stressed or overloaded at work, regular meetings with colleagues, line managers and mentors can all help reduce pressure, as good communication can help you get the support you need to plan your work. Communicating well will also help you to build relationships with your team, which in itself can help to relieve the pressure of the classroom.
Tip six: exercise, exercise, exercise.
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve tension. It not only improves physical fitness it can also have a positive and calming effect on the mind too. Take a run, go for a bike ride or swim or try an exercise class. You could even pull on your running shoes and jog home from school if you feel up to the challenge!
Tip seven: learn relaxation techniques.
You might be in a school which actively encourages this and creates opportunities for staff to enjoy a peaceful environment or practise mindfulness exercises. If not, you can still do it yourself. Learn breathing exercises, yoga or tai chi – anything that allows your mental and physical senses to connect. Underlying anxiety makes it harder to deal with problems and increases stress. You could also try practising mindfulness, for example, the 7/11 technique. This is where you breathe in for seven counts and out for eleven. This can help shift you to a calmer mode of mind, and allow you to respond rather than react to a situation. By practising these techniques they will help you to respond more effectively.
Using apps to help you with your wellbeing can also be effective. When you work with us, you will get the chance to download our fantastic benefits app, which has a section dedicated to helping you manage your mental wellbeing. It has everything from immediate access to a confidential telephone counselling and legal information service that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to an online support portal where you can find information to help you with balancing your home life, work life and emotional health. Click here to purchase the app.
Tip eight: set realistic targets.
At the start of each day, sit down and write yourself a manageable to-do list that is realistic for you to accomplish. That way, you can cross things off your list once they are completed, and go home feeling as if you are on top of your workload, and you have achieved great things. If you don't do this, you can go home feeling disheartened that you have not got enough done in your day.
Tip nine: learn to say no.
Though it is a tiny word, saying no can be a huge task! Saying no when people ask you to do something can be very tough, as you don't want to disappoint the person asking. However, learning to say no firmly and politely when necessary can actually inspire great respect, as it will show that you are honest, truthful and know your own capabilities well. It will also help you to manage your workload and achieve a good work/life balance.
Tip ten: take a step back.
Remember, that although you (hopefully!) enjoy your job, going to school each day is just a job - maintaining a life outside of work is key to success and happiness in the workplace. It's great that you enjoy your job, but you don't want to start resenting it.
We hope you find these top tips useful. If you want any further advice, you can get in touch with our team of specialist consultants by clicking here.