Stress Management for Teachers
Stress is a normal part of every teacher's life. But left
unmanaged, it can undermine effective teaching and learning.
Luckily, there are ways to manage stress. Take a look at the
Recognize the signs of stress.
Monitor yourself for the following symptoms:
If stress has taken over, it's time to take action.
- You're not sleeping.
- You feel nervous all the time.
- You forget important things.
- You get sick a lot.
- You're always tired.
- You eat a lot more or less than usual.
- You no longer enjoy everyday activities.
- You think about leaving the teaching profession.
Identify your key stressors.
The first step in handling stress is to identify its key
sources. These may be behavioral (you're not getting enough
sleep), situational (lack of feedback from your supervisor),
or mental/emotional (low self-esteem).
Pay attention to your stress load over the next few days
or weeks. Keep a stress journal in which you record your reactions
to specific events. Review the results, look for patterns,
and identify the key sources of stress in your life. Then
develop a targeted plan to avoid or alleviate these stressors.
Talk to colleagues.
Social isolation is a common cause of professional stress.
Talk things over with your colleagues. How do they handle
classroom issues? What stress management techniques work for
them? Conversations can take place casually or be formalized
as once-a-month stress management roundtables.
Take regular breaks throughout the school day.
Many teachers go all day without a break. Don't fall into
this trap! Use your breaks to step away from work and relax.
Avoid shoptalk in the staff room, and take a walk around the
block or listen to music to clear your head.
Plan ahead to avoid feeling rushed.
Too busy? Time management is an important component of stress
management. Take a few minutes each night to organize for
the next day. Develop a weekly schedule with time for teaching,
grading, meetings, and other obligations. Consider setting
your alarm 15 minutes earlier to start each morning with quiet
Practice daily stress management skills.
Small steps can add up to a practical and effective stress-management
Try "reframing" difficult situations.
- Eat well.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Reduce caffeine consumption.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.
- Keep a sense of humor!
- Enjoy a favorite activity on a regular basis.
Reframing is an exercise in which you view problems as opportunities,
focusing on the positive rather than the negative. Example:
"Boy, I really blew it on that lesson plan. The kids didn't
get it at all." Reframing: "Now I know to avoid that particular
Think of stressful situations at work. How can you reframe
these issues in a more positive light?
Take it one day at a time.
You may feel extra stress during state exams or when final
grades are due. Use the tips provided here to help you get
through these difficult periods. Plan a reward for yourself
when the crunch is over, like a massage or dinner out.