By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano
Let’s be honest: Teaching is stressful. After all, teachers are expected to be so much more than just experts in pedagogy. They have to be social workers, disciplinarians, entertainers, artists, parental figures, etc. Not to mention the added stress of high-stakes testing that has become the norm. Teacher burnout is a real problem, particularly during this time of year. Here are six simple techniques to keep stress at bay and keep you on your A-game.
1. Take time for yourself during the school day.
This could be as simple as listening to relaxing music in your classroom or eating lunch in the teachers’ lounge instead of at your desk in front of a huge stack of papers that need to be graded. If you feel like you can’t relax anywhere inside your school building, see if you can step outside for a walk or just go to your car and allow yourself to do absolutely nothing for a few minutes.
2. Talk to a supportive colleague.
“I’m not stressed out because I have summers off,” said no teacher ever! But, if you complain to your non-teacher friends about how much stress you’re dealing with, they might not be as sympathetic as someone who’s walked in your shoes. It’s important to make these venting sessions productive, though; otherwise, you might come away feeling even more overwhelmed. Be sure to come up with possible solutions for what’s stressing you out or, at the very least, end the conversation talking about the positive side of your job.
3. Don’t be afraid to say no!
Fulfilling your teaching duties is demanding enough; you don’t need the extra stress of volunteering for every club or afterschool activity. Unless it’s something you’re passionate about, don’t feel bad about turning down offers (or demands) to help out with different projects. This includes activities outside of school, too. If you feel bad about saying no, try being tactful. You can say something like, “Thank you for asking me, but I’m just too busy to dedicate the time and attention your project deserves.”
4. Add some greenery to your classroom.
If you can, try sprucing up your day-to-day surroundings with some indoor plants. Studies have shown that house plants help reduce stress and anxiety. If you don’t have a green thumb, a few artificial plants can have the same effect. Place some around your desk or hang up a picture of a calming landscape. Your students could probably benefit from some stress relief, as well.
5. Just breathe.
There’s a reason the Navy Seals spend time practicing their breathing techniques—it really works! Stress and anxiety can make us feel like we’re losing our minds, but we can combat the negative symptoms of stress by using the 4×4 breathing method. Just take a deep breath in for four seconds, and then breathe out for four seconds. If you can do this for a few minutes, you will feel more in control of your body and emotions.
6. Practice gratitude.
Writing down what we’re grateful for helps to put things in perspective. Make a list of everything you’re thankful for, especially as it relates to being a teacher. Teaching is a meaningful profession, something not everyone can say about his or her job. It may be challenging, but it comes with many, many rewards.