7 top tips to help teachers combat stress and find a better work-life balance
So you're working in your personal time because you just don't seem to be able to finish it all during the day and if everyone else at school is coping, why aren't you? There's marking to be completed, the next day's lessons to be reviewed, reports that need to be written, development plans to be created; the list goes on and on. Before long you're feeling guilty, your work is suffering, your home life is rapidly deteriorating and you feel like you're close to burning out.
Here are a few suggestions to help you reduce those escalating stress levels …
1. Give yourself a break!
Whatever you might think, you're not alone. We have an education system that puts ridiculous pressure on teachers, but you can only do what you can do. Prioritise, and don't try to please everyone. If you don't have time or feel comfortable about doing something, then speak up. Explain that if you take on that particular task then something else will need to give. If the circumstances allow, then politely and firmly saying 'no' can be really empowering as well as reducing your workload.
2. Don't spend time worrying about the future
Anxiety over things that may not happen can be a major cause of stress. If you have current issues to do with work, talk to somebody you trust about it. Whether it's another teacher or a more senior colleague, they may be able to support you and advise you on how to resolve your concerns.
3. Make a list of things that are important to you, personally as well as professionally
It will help you prioritise and remind you to make some regular 'you' time to do the things you enjoy, whether it's exercise, doing something creative or reading a book.
4. Avoid negative conversations and getting involved in gossip and staffroom politics
It's draining on your energy and enthusiasm. Instead, use that time to do something you enjoy.The same applies to any negative self-talk you find yourself doing. Get into the habit of swapping your negative thoughts for more positive ones. Instead of thinking 'I'll never finish this…' try saying 'As soon as this is done…' and decide how you will reward yourself when you've completed it.
5. Try not to take work home
Even if this means staying behind late or working through your break times, you'll find it much easier to relax and switch off if you create a clear 'marker' between your work life and your home life.
6. Don't fall into the trap of seeing yourself as a 'victim'
However grim a situation may be at the time, you always have a choice. Often, just reflecting on what those choices are can help you feel better about any situation.
7. Resolve not to let the little things get you down
Does it really matter if everything isn't perfect? It's more important for your students to engage with you and enjoy learning from you. If you can make their times in the classroom with you enjoyable and productive, you may well have an impact on them that could last a lifetime.What other profession can claim to do that?