Self-help tips for teachers to fight stress


It’s sad, but true: the words ‘stress’ and ‘workload’ have become almost synonymous with the teaching profession. Long before ‘funding cuts’, ‘recruitment crisis’ or ‘Covid catch-up’ became the issues that school are grappling with, workload has been a constant concern for teachers.

The numbers don’t lie. In recent research from Hays, 71% of school leaders said that they were finding it increasingly difficult to recruit permanent teachers. The recruitment of new staff has been an issue for a long time. However, the shortage of new blood is compounded by that fact that schools seem to find it hard to hold on to what they have. Shockingly, in 2020, one in six new teachers left the profession after just a single year in the classroom. It’s estimated that 40% of teachers leave within 5 years.

And, although they are by no means the only issues, ‘workload’ and ‘stress’ always feature highly on any list of reasons why teachers leave the job.

So, what can be done?

Well, teacher workload is undoubtedly a complex issue. But despite the weight of evidence suggesting the negative impact it has on the profession, few at the chalkface would say things have improved much – if at all – recently. Major change is needed and regardless of how many ‘workload surveys’ are carried out, little impact has yet to be seen.

The individual class teacher is really at the mercy of their school leadership. However, it is not a hopeless situation. Sometimes, it can be the little things that make a real difference.

Self-help and self-care could be the answer. Ultimately, teachers need to look after Number One. It is important that teachers do not let the job define who they are.

Here are some tips to keep stress away – or at least in check.

Take up a hobby

Okay, so this bit of advice might seem a bit daft! Teachers are struggling with their workload, as if they have the time to take up a hobby. We get that – but hear us out…

After a hard day and week, the temptation is simply to switch off: Netflix, a bottle of wine and the sofa might sound like an irresistible combination. There’s no denying that we all need some R&R from time to time; however, it’s important to ‘switch on’ as well as to ‘switch off’. Being physically active, learning a new skill, or taking up a new hobby will be better for your wellbeing in the long run.

Try Journalling

The notion of keeping a diary might seem slightly old-hat these days, but the benefits of journalling are celebrated in all circles. There are a plethora of apps to choose from but traditional pen and paper is fine too. It is the principle behind journaling that is important. The process forces you to balance any negativity that may occur during the day with a few moments of self-reflection and positivity. It is about focusing on what you have, rather than what you haven’t got.

Practice what you preach

Finally, aim to have more of a growth mindset about everything you do. It’s a case of practising what you preach with the students you teach. Think about the advice you would give about how to revise: take regular breaks and give yourself rewards – and take a leaf out of your own book.

Remember how a growth mindset can challenge negative feelings. If a pupil doesn’t believe that they can make progress in subject, they probably won’t.

The thing is, if you don’t think things can get better for you – they probably won’t either.

At TutorRight we work with schools and councils. Sharing the workload can help your students to excel.

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