Teaching is a demanding career, even under the best conditions. 10 hour plus days are not rare, and the specification of your job will often spill over into your free time.
With 61% of educators reporting their work is "always" or "often" stressful—twice the rate of other professions - it can be hard to get things under control so you can be the best teacher you can be.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five useful strategies to help you manage your teacher anxiety.
Make Time for You
Taking care of yourself requires a focused effort and we know how challenging it is to eat well, workout, or even think about yourself when there are so many other things that you need to be focusing on. But finding activities you enjoy and scheduling time for them in your week is key to beating teacher anxiety, so you need to make it a priority.
A great way of doing this is creating rewards for yourself—like taking yourself to the movies or having a nice bar of chocolate— that you get when you finish other tasks.
Anxiety is mainly triggered by getting lost in your thoughts when you’ve got some time on your hands. This is why it’s important to remember the four Ts: transitions, teatime, toilet, and telephone.
Each time you are moving from one activity to the next, having a drink, using the bathroom, or checking your phone, take a couple of deep breaths and come back to the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness is something you can do quietly while you're teaching, or you may choose to use it with your entire class as demonstrated in our #TeachFit programme.
Modify Your Mind-Set
Many influences that impact your job are simply out of your control. While this can be trying, it doesn't have to cause anxiety.
A good way to not get lost in your frustration is to remember the "big problem/little problem" strategy that many of us teach in our classrooms. I.e. what is the magnitude of the problem, what is the appropriate size of the reaction. However, for teachers, I think this strategy can also be helpful, but I'd add a third option: "Not my problem."
Create and Nurture Your Support Network
Most of us will keep any symptom of poor mental health to ourselves, yet most of us are in the same boat when it comes to stress. By simply reaching out to colleagues or connecting with others through impartial communities like Opogo (link) to talk about your experiences can be a great relief. And you’ll be surprised how many people are willing and ready to support you when you need it.
Always Plan Ahead
Feeling unprepared is a big trigger for anxiety and teachers who plan in advance tend to experience less anxiety.
Obviously, plans can change, but having plans definitely helps reduce anxiety. Many teachers commit to staying at school on Friday until their plans for the next week are complete. Others commit to planning on Thursday, so their weekends can start right away on Friday afternoon.
Whatever your method of planning or when you chose to do it, make sure you make your targets easy and achievable and, going back to point one, always give yourself a treat once you finished. You deserve it.
For more tips on how to improve your wellbeing, check out our regular content from TeachFit and Wellbeing Expert, Kirsty Raynor.
About our Community Expert
Marketing & Comms Director at Opogo
Joseph has over ten years’ experience in building, developing and managing high-performance marketing teams across B2B and B2C businesses.
Joseph is passionate about improving the working conditions and the value proposition for educators as he believes they are our most valuable resource in continuing to drive the world forward.
Joseph is the Marketing and Communications Director at Opogo.