Effective Strategies for Full-Time Teachers to Manage Stress and Improve Well-being
Teaching can be a rewarding profession, but also stressful. As a full-time teacher, you have to manage multiple responsibilities such as teaching, listening to complaints, lesson planning, grading papers, meeting with parents, and attending meetings among others. These tasks can be overwhelming, leaving you feeling exhausted, anxious, and stressed. However, there are ways to cope with stress and improve your overall well-being.
In this article, we provide practical strategies and activities to help manage stress and improve overall well-being. Learn how to prioritize self-care, set realistic goals, practice mindfulness, and seek support and aid where necessary.
1. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself, physically and mentally. As a full-time teacher, it’s important to take care of yourself so you can be present and effective in the classroom. Practising self-care can help reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Here are some self-care practices you can try out as a full-time teacher:
- Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. You don’t have to engage in a rigorous exercise routine to reap the benefits. Simple activities like walking, yoga, and swimming can be beneficial.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase stress levels, making it difficult to manage daily tasks. Make sure you get enough sleep each night, preferably seven to nine hours.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a well-balanced diet can help reduce stress levels and improve your overall health.
- Take breaks: Taking breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and refocus.
- Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process your emotions and reduce stress. Try journaling for 10-15 minutes each day.
- Taking a warm bath: A warm bath can help you relax and reduce stress. Add some Epsom salts or essential oils to the bath for added relaxation.
- Engage in a hobby: Hobbies can provide a sense of enjoyment and fulfilment. Consider taking up a new hobby, such as painting, knitting, or playing a musical instrument.
- Practice gratitude: Take a few minutes each day to write down things you’re grateful for. This can help shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life and reduce stress.
2. Set Realistic Goals
As a full-time teacher, it’s essential to set realistic goals for yourself. You cannot do “EVERYTHING”. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to stress and burnout. When setting goals, make sure they are SMART. S- specific, M- measurable, A- achievable, R- relevant, and T- time-bound.
Here are some examples of SMART goals:
- I will mark papers for 30 minutes every day after school.
- I will start recording and entering assessment scores at the beginning of the term.
- I will spend 15 minutes each day organizing my lesson plans for the week.
- I will attend three professional development workshops each year.
Setting realistic goals can help you manage your time effectively and reduce stress levels. Here are the overall things you need to consider in setting a realistic goal:
- Prioritize tasks: Make a list of tasks that need to be completed and prioritize them based on importance. This can help you focus on the most important tasks and reduce stress.
- Break tasks into smaller pieces: If a job seems overwhelming, break it into smaller, manageable pieces. This can help you feel more in control and reduce stress.
- Use a planner: Use a planner to schedule your daily tasks and activities. This can help you manage your time effectively and reduce stress.
- Take advantage of planning periods: Use your planning periods to catch up on grading or planning. This can help reduce the amount of work you need to take home and reduce stress.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment. Practising mindfulness can help reduce stress levels, improve focus, and increase overall well-being. You can try out the following:
- Meditation: Meditation is a great way to practice mindfulness. There are many meditation apps and videos available that can guide you through the process.
- Deep breathing: Deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels and improve focus. Take a few deep breaths throughout the day to help calm your mind.
- Mindful walking: Take a few minutes each day to go for a mindful walk. Pay attention to your surroundings and be fully present at the moment.
- Listen to music: Calming music can help you relax and reduce stress. Create a playlist of your favourite calming songs and listen to them when you need to de-stress.
- Practice body scans: A body scan is a mindfulness exercise where you focus on different parts of your body and notice any sensations you feel. This can help you become more aware of your body and reduce stress.
- Use guided imagery: Guided imagery is a mindfulness exercise where you visualize a calming scene, such as a beach or a forest. This can help you relax and reduce stress.
- Take mindful breaks: Take a few minutes throughout the day to practice mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or a body scan. This can help you stay present and reduce stress.
4. Seek Support
As a full-time teacher, it’s important to have a support system. Seeking support from colleagues, friends, and family can help you cope with stress and improve your overall well-being. Here are some ways you can seek support:
- Talk to colleagues: Discussing your stressors with colleagues can help you feel supported and validated.
- Join a support group: Joining a support group can provide you with a safe space to discuss your stressors with others who are experiencing similar situations.
- Meet with a mentor: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider meeting with a mentor or experienced teacher. They can provide you with support and guidance.
- Attend a teacher support group: Teacher support groups provide a safe space for teachers to discuss their stressors and receive support from others who understand their situation.
- Talk to a friend or family member: Reach out to a friend or family member and talk to them about your stressors. They can provide you with emotional support and a listening ear.
Teaching can be a stressful profession, but there are ways to effectively cope with stress. Practising self-care, setting realistic goals, practising mindfulness, and seeking support can help reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. By taking care of yourself, you can be present.