Teaching is a stressful job, especially when you are figuring things out during your first year or during especially busy times like student testing or parent-teacher conferences. It can be tempting to work around the clock, but research shows that rest makes you more productive, not less. It’s important to manage your own stress so that your classroom feels like a safe place for both you and your students to learn. Try these ideas to stay cool and collected!
1. Do things you enjoy.
Add time during your week to do something you love just for fun. Think of it as play time! For me, I enjoy cooking. Chopping onions while listening to music at the end of a long day is the perfect way to relax. What is it that you do just for the fun of it?
2. Make time for friends and family.
Being a new teacher can be isolating. Having strong relationships can help buffer stress. Try setting a regular coffee date with a friend on Saturday mornings, a phone call with a family member each afternoon, or making time to have dinner at a friend’s house.
Exercise is a natural stress-reliever. This can be as simple as a 10 minute walk on your lunch break, a yoga class in the evening, or switching it up from driving to work to biking to work. Find something that works for you and your schedule.
4. Get plenty of sleep.
It’s tempting to stay up late to finish one last lesson plan. However, school days start early and your students have plenty of energy. Sleep deprivation can diminish your creativity, your focus, your immunity, and even put you at higher risk of “burning out.” Getting 8 hours of sleep each night lets your mind and body recover from stress.
5. Try deep breathing.
This technique is great for “in the moment” stress at work. You can try it right now! Here’s how: place one hand on your belly, where your diaphragm is (right between your navel and your ribs). Place the other hand on your chest. You can close your eyes if you’d like, but you don’t have to. Breathe in deeply, filling your diaphragm first, then your lungs. Slowly exhale.
Repeat, taking ten of these slow breaths. You might notice that afterwards you feel more relaxed and calm. You could even try doing this for ten minutes each morning when you wake up to start the day off right, or every evening before bed to help you sleep.