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 our research, work/life balance is a top factor for 71% of teachers when it comes to looking for a job but given that 47% also cite the lack of it as one of the main reasons for leaving education, it’s not always so easy to achieve.
It probably sounds familiar if you are an education professional and you probably care deeply about the job you do, striving to get the best out of your students. However, to be an effective teacher, you need to take care of yourself too. If you don’t deal with the stress that comes from it then you are at risk of burnout – emotional, mental and physical exhaustion.
Here are seven ways to help you get on top of teaching pressure:
Make the most of your leisure time
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 a great album. Whatever appeals to you, go and do it, enjoy the moment and relax.
Seek out 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 as they say and sometimes just being able to talk things through with like-minded individuals, facing similar pressures can help you to see things more positively.
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 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.
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.
Communication is key
Regular meetings with colleagues, line managers and mentors can all help reduce pressure because it improves communication, even it is only for ten minutes. It fosters relationships, which in itself can help relieve pressure and helps you to explain your position and understand others.
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve tension. Without a physical output for stress it stays in the body, but exercise 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. At the very least go for a walk and give yourself some room to breathe.
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 thai chi – anything that allows your mental and physical senses to connect. Underlying anxiety makes it harder to deal with problems and increases stress. By practising these techniques they will help you to respond more effectively and calmly.
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