The day has been hectic. You skipped your pre-class coffee to help a student with a nosebleed and then managed to keep all 25 of your students on task while they mastered basic algebra. Play duty was a mass of noise. There was a meeting at lunch with the Head to discuss your class outing. The rest of the day was just a blur of paint and paper. A few meetings with parents on the playground about their children’s homework and now it’s time to sit down and do some marking before going home for the day.
Is your head spinning yet?
Teaching is a hectic job and many teachers sometimes find the responsibilities required to be overwhelming. The good news is that you probably aren’t suffering on your own. Many teachers can feel frazzled, not only about balancing their own work but also about the pastoral care of their students, staying on top of their workload and managing everything while still trying to fit in a personal life. It is important to maintain that work-life balance not only for yourself, but also for your students. Here are some tips and tricks to help you feel a bit more in control during your busy day.
Yes, the weather’s not always cooperating and, yes, it’s difficult to find time, but 20 minutes of exercise can help to combat stress and tension. If you don’t feel able to set aside time for exercising, simply walking to your train station instead of taking the bus still counts! Those released endorphins will help you feel better and the time alone or with friends may even give you a chance to sort out anything that’s been bothering you.
You’re probably spending some time sitting at your desk going through that pile of marking. For just a few minutes, sit back and place your feet flat on the floor (this is best done in socks or bare feet). Fold your hands in your lap, close your eyes (it helps!) and inhale to the count of ten. Exhale to the count of ten. Repeat until you feel calm. Guaranteed stress reliever.
3. Phone a Friend
Sometimes being overwhelmed creates a lack of contact with friends. Take a few minutes out of your day (maybe even during that 20 minute stroll to the station) to get back in touch with someone not directly involved in your school life. Phoning is good, a coffee or tea date is even better. Face-to-face contact with friends can help us feel more connected and nothing busts up stress better than a good laugh with those we’re close to.
4. Make a To-Do List
If you feel like things are flying at you from all angles, prioritize. Make up a list of commitments and assignments in order of importance. You can even colour-code these into categories to help you keep them straight. After you’ve done a task, cross it off the list and you’ll soon feel like things aren’t as overwhelming as they seem.
5. Stay healthy
Being overstressed can affect your immune system. Many people sacrifice sleep or proper eating in order to get a few more tasks done and this causes more harm than good. Make sure that you’re eating healthy food regularly and are getting enough sleep. Planning your meals ahead can also help you feel more organized, while some enjoy cooking as a stress-busting activity. Either way, make sure you’re taking care of yourself so those nasty winter colds don’t throw a spanner into your plans.
When you’ve hit that moment where you just don’t think you can do it anymore, turn off the computer, stop watching TV, and curl up with a good book or cup of tea and just relax.
Good students need good teachers who are healthy and mentally prepared to handle their day. Taking care of your stress doesn’t just affect you - it will also affect your students. A calm mind in a healthy body is the best teaching resource you have. Take care of it!