By Patricia Smith,
As a new faculty member,
the thought of a new school year brings both excitement and feeling
overwhelmed! What will the students think of me? How will I get
all of these papers graded in time? How will I handle the discipline
problems? Why am I so tired? What ever made me think I could be
a teacher? One instructor, after thirty years of teaching, admitted
to the same reoccurring nightmare at the beginning of each school
year- standing before the class without any clothes on!
Or perhaps you are
a veteran teacher, returning bone weary. The public often believes
a teacher's day ends at 3:00 p.m. What they don't see is the time
and effort involved in grading papers, record keeping, assisting
students after class, course preparation, attending school functions
and committee meetings, the many hours spent on hiring committees,
working with school clubs and organizations, and attending to
professional growth and development.
Teaching is a rewarding
profession in that it encompasses all of our resources -physical,
social, psychological and spiritual. However, it is easy to become
depleted! Being "other focused" - we often put our own
needs and our family's needs last. Burnout is not uncommon. By
recognizing the early warning signs of burnout, we can take steps
to control stress.
Remember you don't
have to give away the well! Buckets will do!
Utilize your resources.
Other teachers, faculty development workshops, and professional
journals and references can help with classroom management tips.
Find a role model. Become familiar with and utilize student support
services on your campus. You do not have to do it alone! As a
teacher, you can create a psychologically safe classroom where
optimal learning can occur. Look for opportunities to participate
in college wide decision making processes and plan your own development.
Refuel through growth and learning. What do you need to unleash
your creative potential in the classroom? Finally, enlist the
support of family and friends in your stress management plan.
We all feel
the symptoms of stress. What are yours?
- change in
sleeping behavior *
- change in
- change in
sexual desire *
- back pain
- chest pain
- racing heart
- frequent colds
signs of stress
- feeling trapped
from family and friends
use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco
- being late
- watching more
- avoiding responsibility
- growing debt
- child support
- fixed or reduced
- child care
- waiting in
that doesn't work
- losing or
- death of a
- illness, injury
- divorce or
- being single
- sexual problems
- caring for
an elderly relative
- sexual problems
- poor communication
- problems with
- a child moving
out or returning home
- poor eyesight
- poor hearing
- sleep disorders
- loss of mobility
- a long commute
- starting a
- a promotion
- lack of training
- lack of recognition
- a noisy environment
- new responsibilities
- ask yourself
"Can I control this?" If not, let it go....
- take a walk around
- bubble bath
for Reducing Stress
- talk it over with
- consult with your
health care provider
- get up ten minutes
earlier so that you are not rushed
- choose a time and
place to do your work.....and leave it there!
- know what is expected
- get organized
- alternate right
brain and left brain activities, e.g. mental and physical tasks
- avoid clustering
-- plan ahead if possible. Too much change, too fast is
- welcome change
- congratulate yourself
for what you are able to accomplish
- keep a journal
- schedule work
- break big jobs down
into small parts
- group similar tasks
- take breaks
- look for ways to
increase efficiency -- return phone calls at one time, combine
errands, cook several meals at once
- are your beeper,
cell phone, e-mail and voice mail running you?
- include yourself
in your schedule as your first priority, not your last.
- learn to say no.
No is a complete sentence. No.
- what are your favorite
activities and when did you last do them?
Do you have
a WELLNESS Lifestyle?
and nutrition are the first to go when experiencing stress.
Extra attention to these will increase your ability to cope!
Are you sleep deprived?
Eight -nine hours of sleep per night at regular times may be all
that is needed to combat stress.
- Avoid alcohol and
- Exercise during
- Take a warm bath.
- Pray or meditate.
- Exercise at least
30 minutes each day to reduce tension and improve your health
- Choose an activity
that you enjoy and look forward to.
- Try a new activity,
for example, Yoga or Tai Chi.
- Eat breakfast
- Choose a low fat,
high fiber diet
- Eat regular meals,
- Reduce sugar intake
- Don't over-eat.
Are you getting your
FIVE a day? Five fruits and five
vegetables per day are recommended for optimal health.
techniques can improve well-being:
Sit or lie comfortably.
Tighten the facial muscles and then relax your entire body. Move
on to other muscle groups - shoulders, arms, chest, legs, feet
-- continue until you have tensed and relaxed your whole body.
Imagine a peaceful
scene and imagine yourself in this setting.
Close your eyes and
concentrate on a calming word or thought. If other thoughts
pass through your mind, simply ignore them.
Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Place one hand on
your chest and the other below your rib
cage. Inhale through your nose and feel your abdomen
rise. Exhale through your mouth, emptying your lungs, and allowing
your abdomen to fall. Let the exhales be twice as long as
the inhales. The breath is a natural tranquilizer.
Develop a Stress
- Set your stress
management goals and plan of action. Don't forget a target date.
- Get support. Tell
family, friends and co-workers about your goals for extra encouragement.
- Keep a log or journal
of your progress
- Reward yourself
for Stress Management
a job closer to home
- Send resume
to local colleges
family, friends and colleagues of plan
Delegate yard work to kids
- Lawn mowing
Hire a teacher's assistant to help with grading
a graduate student from the local university.
Begin exercise program
a complete physical exam
- Buy new
running shoes at next sale.
2 miles 3X per week. M, T, W
- Run 1
mile ( walk the ends and run the lengths of track) - 3Xweek-
Fri, Sat, and Sun at 8:00 a.m.
July 1, 2001
Eat "Five a day" (fruits and vegetables)
- Add fruit
to breakfast cereal.
yogurt for lunch, add low sodium vegetable juice and baby
carrots to lunch,
- Add vegetable
medley to dinner.
and strawberries for snack.
- Find a
a place of worship/fellowship.
July 1, 2001
Develop a hobby
- Sign up
for a 6 week sculpting class at local Parks and Recreation
July 25, 2001
Re-connect with family
at our house
family outings to fish hatchery, beach, park, movies,
bike ride , sporting event or museum. Invite friends along.
July 4, 2001
Finally, if stress
gets out of hand, contact:
- health care provider
- local hospital
- mental health centers
- employee assistance
- state and local
mental health associations
- student health center
- clergy, social workers,
nurses, counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists
- or take a wellness
or fitness class at the community college, park and recreation
center, or university.
let stress get the best you! Take steps now to control it. You
are worth it!