Approximately 17% of new teachers leave the teaching profession within the first five years (source), and while that number is not as large as it once was – it’s still quite large. There are many reasons believed to be the cause of the turnover, but undoubtedly, stress is a contributor. Even veteran teachers are more likely to say that the stress rates are much higher now than teaching 10 or 20 years ago.
While we are unlikely to ever completely get rid of stress, here are a few ideas to help us stress less!
STRESS LESS through the school year
I’m pretty sure if I don’t start with your health, I’ll get in trouble… So, take care of yourself. We all know when we sleep well, eat right, stay hydrated (soda doesn’t hydrate you!), and exercise, we have more energy and can handle stress better. Sometimes this can be a bit of a challenge, but you could bring it into your classroom. Have “hydration” breaks and/or brain breaks. Include activities where you move around the classroom a lot. I remember a time when I would actually walk around the playground during recess – actually walk it like I was in gym class. The kids joined me, and it was a great community building time.
Your mentality makes a huge difference in how you handle stress, but honestly, I think it’s the hardest! When I say mentality, I mean these things:
- Think positively – Learn to focus on what went well rather than what didn’t. The more you think positively, the better you will feel! (This includes avoiding negative people!)
- Change your mindset – We are so hyper-focused on changing students’ mindsets for the better, but sometimes we forget that we need to change ours, too. We can achieve anything, including being stress-free!
- Do NOT take things personally – It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day events and take them personally, thinking it’s our fault or we could have or should have done this or that. Don’t do it.
- Reflect daily – Take time out to write things down. I have found that when I write things down, it’s like venting (but without venting!), and I immediately feel better because I let it all out.
- Laugh frequently – Find ways to incorporate laughter into the classroom, even if it’s just a quick “joke” time each day. Another option is adding light music to the classroom, as that uplifts spirits.
Lastly, in the workplace, there are many things you will need to do and have in place to help stress less. First, you will need to be organized and prepared. The more organized and prepared you are, the less time you spend freaking out because you can’t find something or aren’t ready. Eliminate activities that you are working on that are non-productive – instead only focus on ones that are a high priority. Check out my time management tips for other ideas. Simply delegate the other responsibilities. I have had my teenager come in and help me with the little things. Of the things that are a high priority, start off with the worst thing first (and try doing it first thing in the morning when you are more awake and have the most energy!).
Whenever you do feel yourself getting stressed out, it’s important that you take deep breaths and focus your energy on something creative. This could be something like coloring (as much as I hate to admit it – the coloring books are truly a great outlet for stress) or journaling. You must take that break when you feel the stress or your body won’t be able to do the rest! 🙂