It’s the beginning of a new school year. With homework, social pressures, and extracurricular activities, many school children are likely to experience stress, but they aren’t the only ones. Teachers experience stress as well. Fortunately, a few Mindful tips can help teachers stay stress-free throughout the school year.
Teaching the next generation is an honorable and vital job that doesn’t always get the respect that it deserves. It’s also a very stressful job and it can really wear down teachers. According to a Gallup Poll of American schools, 70 percent of full-time teachers, from kindergarten teachers to twelfth-grade teachers, are not engaged in their jobs. This can have dire consequences for the classroom.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia found a connection between teacher burnout and the students’ cortisol levels. In the study, classrooms with burned out teachers were more likely to have students with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. There are two possible reasons for this connection.
Stressed teachers with inadequate support may not be able to effectively manage their students, creating a stressful classroom climate for students. On the other hand, it’s possible that the stress comes from the students. If the students are a bit challenging to teach, due to behavioral or educational problems, this can increase the teacher’s stress.
No matter where the stress originates, it’s important to find a solution. Listed below are a few Mindful tips for stressed teachers.
- Seek out help. Talking about the pressure and difficulties of teaching can help teachers release stress. Consider talking to a trusted mentor, a compassionate friend, or a psychologist can help. Also, seek out stress resources for teachers. A list of helpful books and articles from the American Psychological Association could be beneficial.
- Make time for other interests. Teaching requires a lot of work outside of traditional work hours and it can interfere with personal time. Investing in better work-life balance will reduce stress. Invest in personal hobbies and interests throughout the school year.
- Practice “mindfulness.” Reduce stress with mindful exercises. A University of Wisconsin-Madison study researched mindfulness classes on teachers, and they found that teachers that took the mindfulness training displayed “reductions in psychological stress, improvements in classroom organization, and increases in self-compassion.” In the study, teachers practiced daily, guided meditation at home for 15 minutes. They also learned strategies for handling stress triggers in the classroom. These mindful exercises can help other teachers as well.