The 4 Rs to manage stress | Education Support
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managing stress - teachers and educations staff

The 4 Rs to manage stress

29th October 2020

For National Stress Awareness Day on 4th November, teacher and author Victoria Hewett looks at 4 ways teachers and education staff can manage the many stresses that have arisen recently.

When this year started, I am sure none of us imagined we’d be teaching during a pandemic.

Yet, here we are, and despite what the media may try to portray, the teaching profession has been working incredibly hard since March to support and educate the young people in our schools and communities.

Whilst teaching during a pandemic has brought an array of opportunities, there have been a myriad of challenges as well, all of which bring with them a level of uncertainty and stress.

So as National Stress Awareness Day approaches, how can teachers and education staff manage the many stresses that have arisen?

Recognise

Firstly we all need to recognise and acknowledge the many elements that may be causing us strain; the day to day uncertainty and the frequent changes are creating numerous challenges and stresses for even the most relaxed amongst us. It is okay to feel stressed, concerned and more anxious than you might usually.

Take a brief moment each day to identify and acknowledge the elements of your work or life that are currently causing you stress. Consider how you are feeling both mentally and physically. If you are feeling worried, stressed or anxious, what is causing this and which elements do you have control over. From there, build yourself a wellbeing plan.

Once you take the time to recognise the triggers of stress in your life, it is important that we also accept that under current circumstances there’s going to be only so much we can control as individuals, teachers, leaders and schools. We must therefore allow ourselves to have clear work-life boundaries to avoid potential burnout.

Rest and recoup

Taking time to rest and recuperate from work has never been so important. All the changes in the workplace have made the job twice as tiring and by the weekend many of us are exhausted. It is really important that we take the time whenever possible to slow down, relax and recover.

In the past, I have been awful at doing just this, however the pandemic has taught me to slow down and appreciate that doing nothing is a valid use of time if that is what my body needs.

Take at least 20 minutes each day to incorporate ‘calm moment’ activities into your routine; these are any activities that can be undertaken at a relaxed or leisurely pace such as reading, mindfulness, a slow walk or similar. You can do them independently or with friends and family, whatever works for you under current limitations.

Relationships

Whilst calm moments are beneficial, many of us are also finding that social distancing along with the day-to-day restrictions are putting a strain on our personal and professional relationships. Even as an introvert, I am really missing the face-to-face interactions, the social opportunities and the general feel good moments a chat with colleagues can have.

When stressed, sometimes all we need is to talk about our worries with a trusted friend and they start to shrink. Yet, talking to someone via a digital device just doesn’t translate in the same way. It is vital that we plan time to socialise face to face where restrictions allow.

Set time into your weekly routine for maintaining your professional and personal relationships; this may be in the form of a socially distanced lunch break with a colleague, a 10 minute walk at the end of the day for a catch up or a phone call, card or letter to a friend or loved one. Share the highlights but also share how you are feeling with those you trust. They do say that a problem shared is a problem halved after all.

If however, you are finding it challenging to connect with others and need to talk, the Education Support helpline is available 24/7. Their friendly, supportive counsellors are ready to listen without judgement and help you to find a way forward, no matter what it is that is causing you stress and concern.

Recreation

Finally, ensuring there is time set aside for recreational activities whether it be in the form of sport, art, learning or the like, we need to step away from work and the associated stresses and do things for us. Engaging in activities that you enjoy can build a buffer against stress.

Plan, organise and set time aside daily and weekly for doing the things that make you feel yourself. Avoid social media and try to make it a period of tech-free time.

Managing stress under the current circumstances can and will be challenging, but by taking small steps and being kind to ourselves, we can manage it.

To read more on Victoria’s experiences and advice on tackling workload check out her blog, MrsHumanities.com, follow her on twitter (@MrsHumanities) and or check our her book‘Making it as Teacher’ published by Routledge.

How we can help 

Teachers and education staff who are feeling stressed or anxious during these uncertain times can get confidential emotional support from our free and confidential helpline: 08000 562561.

What can you do?

If you’re in a position to help others in these extraordinary times, please consider making a donation so that we can continue to answer the increasing number of desperate calls and grants applications we are receiving. Thank you so much.