Teacher anxiety: help & support | Education Support
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Teacher anxiety: help & support

In our most recent Health Survey, 75% of teachers, teaching assistants, headteachers and other education staff said they have experienced a variety of stress or anxiety symptoms in the last two years; 

  • Almost one in five (19%) said they had experienced panic attacks
  • Over half (56%) had suffered from insomnia and difficulties sleeping
  • Over a third (41%) had experienced difficulty concentrating

Teacher ‘burnout’ is not simply the result of being overworked and underpaid. It can be the result of prolonged stress, of feeling isolated and unsupported. The expectation of doing more with less resource (time as well as money) is an increasing factor in the profession.

Our free, confidential helpline deals with thousands of calls every year from anxious teachers, most already in a state of crisis. Our clinical team has provided this advice on the signs that stressed teachers should look out for.

Warning signs include:  

  • Developing apathy and numbness
  • Emotional outbursts from bottled-up emotions
  • Inability to focus leading to interpersonal relationships and work performance suffering

Whilst stress and anxiety symptoms are often disruptive, depressive and irritating, an awareness of possible problems and their negative effect on you and your life can lead to positive change, personal transformation and a new resiliency.

Getting to a point where you have better control over your own life choices take time and hard work. There is no magic involved. There is only a commitment to making your life the best it can be. 

Below are some practical techniques to help you to handle the stresses of being a teacher. 

1. Work out priorities

Keep a list – make the tasks possible. Prioritise the tasks in order of importance and tick them off when done. Include the important people in your life as priorities and attend to these relationships first.

2. Identify your stress situations

Make a list of events that leave you emotionally drained, with one or two ways to reduce the stress for each. When they occur, use them as an opportunity to practise your stress-reduction techniques and keep notes on what works for next time.

3. Don’t react to imagined insults

It is a waste of time and energy to be oversensitive to imagined insults, innuendo or sarcasm. Give people the benefit of the doubt; talk over the situation with someone you trust. They may have another spin on what was said.

4. Think before you commit

People can often perform tasks merely to feel accepted or liked by other people. Practice saying no to requests that are unreasonable or more than you can handle at the time, rather than suffer subsequent regrets and stress.

5. Move on: Don’t dwell on past mistakes

Feelings of guilt, remorse and regret cannot change the past, and they make the present difficult by sapping your energy. Make a conscious effort to do something to change the mood (e.g. employ mindfulness techniques or do something active that you enjoy) when you feel yourself drifting into regrets about past actions. Learn from it and have strategies in place for next time. Learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes.

6. Don’t bottle up anger & frustrations

Express and discuss your feelings to the person responsible for your agitation. If it is impossible to talk it out, plan for some physical activity at the end of the working day to relieve tensions. Let go of grudges – they affect you and your state of mind more than the other person. 

7. Set aside time each day for recreation and exercise

Gentle repetitive exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling are good to relieve stress. Meditation, yoga, pilates and dance are also excellent. The trick is to find what suits you best. Hobbies that focus attention are also good stress relievers. Take up a new activity unrelated to your current occupation; one that gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Establish new friends in your newly found interest.

8. Take your time

Frenzied activities lead to errors, regrets and stress. Request time to orient yourself to the situation. At work, if rushed, ask people to wait until you have finished working or thinking something out. Plan ahead to arrive at appointments early, composed and having made allowances for unexpected hold-ups. Practice approaching situations ‘mindfully’.

9. Don’t be an aggressive on the road

Develop an ‘I will not be ruffled’ attitude. Drive defensively and give way to bullies. Near misses cause stress and strain, so does the fear of being caught for speeding. If possible, avoid peak hour traffic. If caught in it, relax by concentrating on deep (stomach) breathing or ‘mindful driving’. Advanced driving lessons can also be useful. 

10. Help children & young people to cope with stress

Children need the experience of being confronted with problems to try out, and improve their ability to cope. By being overprotective or by intervening too soon, parents and teachers may prevent young people from developing valuable tolerance levels for problems, or from acquiring problem-solving skills.

11. Think positively

Smile whenever possible – it’s an inexpensive and effective way of improving how you feel. Try and find something positive to say about a situation, particularly if you are going to find fault. You can visualise situations you have handled well, and hold those memories in your mind when going into stressful situations.

12. Cut down on drinking, smoking, sedatives & stimulants

These vices only offer temporary relief and don’t solve the wider problem. Indeed, they can create more problems in terms of physical and mental health. They can create more problems in terms of physical and mental health.

13) Take our ‘Stress and Wellbeing’ test

Give yourself an ‘emotional MOT’ to make sure your stress levels are under control. Take the stress test. 

For more information, please download our full guide to Handling Stress.

No matter what you’re going through, our free telephone support and counselling from trained experts is here for you day or night, 24/7, 365 days a year.

How we can help

  • Help for stressed teachers, headteachers and support staff  
    Sometimes work (or just life) can be tough. A challenging student, an Ofsted inspection, personal financial worries; there are many stresses on those who work in education. That’s why we offer free, confidential help and support, no matter what your problem.
  • Help for organisations 
    Working in education is demanding so we’ve designed a set of services to help you check how your teams are coping, troubleshoot problems and boost everyone’s wellbeing.