Although teaching is often a thoroughly enjoyable, rewarding job, as with any profession there will be times when you face stress and difficult days, or struggle to find a home/work balance.
Whether you are just starting out in the profession or have years of experience, the classroom can be a nerve-wracking place, and you need tried and tested techniques to manage the pressures the job brings and improve your physical and mental health.
Here are a few tips to help you unwind and help be positive and control your feelings of stress and anxiety:
When you are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to talk to people you trust about the situation or issue you are concerned with, and sometimes simply getting it off your chest will give you some form of relief. When workload is getting on top of you, communication is key. Speaking to colleagues can or mentors can help reduce pressure, as they are people who probably know all too well what you are going through.
Learning to say ‘No’ is an art form that can take time to master. You may feel that you don’t want to disappoint, however telling people firmly and politely that you do not have time or are not able to do something is assertive and will actually gain you respect. It shows that you know your capabilities and ensures you can manage your workload and prioritise your inner needs.
Breathing deeply can have amazing benefits for your health, and it is something that you could even practice with your class to promote a calm and balanced state. Breathing exercises are a great way to practice mindfulness.
A short meditation practice can help you start your day with a positive attitude. Relaxation techniques can include yoga and tai-chi, and anything that allows you to connect your mental and physical senses.
Exercise not only works on your physical fitness, but releases endorphins and relieves tension, which has a positive and calming effect on the mind. You might think you do enough cardio by running around the classroom, yet exercising at the gym or by going for a brisk outdoor run is different as you are focusing on yourself and are in a different environment.
Teachers commonly report finding it difficult to switch off after a days’ work, or that they end up going to bed very late after marking until the early hours. In order to make sure you can sleep like a baby, lose the laptop and smartphone at night, and cut down on caffeine in the afternoon.
Have Some You Time
Achieving a better work/life balance means prioritising some time in your week for yourself. Work is important, but so is your personal life, so it is a good idea to diarise time with friends and family. As well as diarising seeing other people, put some time aside for yourself: take a couple of hours to switch off, whether that be relaxing in the bath or reading a book.