Stress Management for Teachers: 7 Ways of Reducing Stress
Teaching is becoming more challenging as a profession: more paperwork, more bureaucracy and more unruly classes. This stress management for teachers article outlines 7 ways to deal with stress.
There is definitely a need for stress management for teachers. I spent my formative years watching my mother come back from her job as a teacher every day. She used to get quite stressed with her kids, the system, the paperwork…
As a young boy I always vowed I would never become a teacher because of it! Well, I do teach now but not in schools. I teach workshops, one-on-one coaching and meditation. So what have I learned about stress management for teachers?
Stress Management for Teachers
The following is a list of tips I would recommend as stress management for teachers:
1. Keep Calm
I was once told that you should never get angry at children or animals. I still totally agree.
If you feel really angry or upset in class give yourself time to feel it later on when you are alone or away from the children. Releasing when you are alone is fine it’s just not such a good idea in class as this will just create more stress.
The meditation teacher Ajahn Chah once told his abbots that to be a teacher was to be like a rubbish bin. The trick was, he said, to be a bottomless bin. No matter what people dump in you just let go. Don’t hold onto it or take it personally.
Remember the kids have their own stuff which they are probably dealing with by dumping on you. Remember to see their pain and compassion will spring from your heart.
2. Practice Stress Relief Regularly
If you don’t practice meditation then please go here to learn. Meditation is a wonderful way of dealing with stress.
Not only does it give you perspective but it also calms and relaxes you. Get into a routine of practicing stress management. There is lots more free info on this site – please use it. Take charge of stress rather than stress taking charge of you!
3. Be Centered Before Going Into Class
If you don’t feel good, or are upset and angry then the kids will pick up on it. They know because they are really sensitive. This will potentially make your day difficult if they decide to prod you!
Before going into class spend a few minutes centering yourself:
1. Focus your attention 2 fingers’ breadth below the belly button.
2. Breathe in 4 short intakes of air to that point. Keep your focus there.
3. Hold your breath and tense your stomach muscles 4 times.
4. Breathe out 4 short breaths while keeping your focus there.
5. Do this for a few minutes and you should feel very centered
4. Compassion (Tonglen)
Another good stress management for teachers technique is to be compassionate. Have compassion for the children. They might be going through a hard time at home or with friends and a lot of children are not good at expressing this. Rather than speak about it, they let it build and place this emotion onto others.
There is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher called Pema Chodron. She teaches a technique called Tonglen. The idea is that you breathe in others pain and breathe out love and compassion.
This technique was used by many Tibetan monks during their persecution by the Chinese.
1. You are confronted with a difficult student; they are angry, stressed or anxious.
2. You consciously breathe in their darkness or their pain.
3. You then breathe out a white light, love, compassion, joy, equanimity from your heart.
4. You then breathe in the pain and darkness of everyone in the world.
5. You breathe out healing and light to all beings.
It really is very simple and you will find your heart opening in joy and love rather than closing down in fear and pain. Try it now and see how well it works. Think of someone in pain and do it for them.
5. Laugh With The Class
Have you ever fallen over or done something stupid in class? Has the class burst out in laughter? Did you laugh with them?
If this does happen again go with the flow and laugh. Not only do you have fun but you keep control of the situation and you keep the kids' respect (even if you looked a bit funny at the time!)
I once worked in a school in Australia as a teaching assistant. I got to drop in on different classes. The teachers who had firm boundaries and stuck to them were respected, had order and didn’t get stressed.
The teachers who didn’t have boundaries had no control over their classes and were stressed to the hilt. If you set a boundary, stick to it and the class will start to have more respect for you.
It is important for you to be consistent with your class. If you allow one thing one day and not the next, the children will get confused. Children like to know where they stand. They push the boundaries so they can feel secure knowing where they are.
Stay consistent and you will see the class respecting you more and your stress levels going down.
One of the best ways to stay calm in class is if you have a regular meditation practice going.
When I first started to meditate I found that certain things just didn't bother me anymore and I would rarely rise to people's comments or actions.
Meditation gives you the ability to not react, rather to respond.
Meditation CDs and MP3s I would recommend are Holosync's Awakening Prologue and Brainsync's Meditation Downloads. I have been using Holosync's Awakening Prologue now for about 2 years and have found all 4 of the meditations to be invaluable to lowering stress levels.
Before or after work I find that the Holosync meditations really help me to switch off and relax. You don't have to be a seasoned meditator to start, just press play on the CD player and watch yourself settle into a beautiful meditation.
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