This global pandemic has taken a toll on the lives and health of many people worldwide. Foreign Policy writes that the next pandemic crisis is mental health.
Though we teachers aren’t considered frontliners in this fight against COVID-19, I can only imagine the magnitude of stress that we’re all going through right now, what with all the adjustments we need to make to transfer classroom learning to the online world while doing our best to meet deadlines for entering grades, making reports, and completing other admin tasks.
What makes this even worse is that, due to social distancing rules, it’s harder than ever to have physical in-person human interactions, such as a pat on the back or an encouraging hug, seemingly minuscule things that actually make a huge difference when it comes to human interactions.
Being a teacher is much harder these days because we’ve been so accustomed to our old ways of learning, communicating, and relating to both fellow school staff members and students. Now we must adapt to the new normal.
Welcome to the digital age of the great divide!
Not all teachers are technologically savvy and emotionally prepared to handle all this. So how do we manage this deluge of stress that we find ourselves in?
Here’s a helping hand from The English Blog, a list of five life hacks for teachers to help them manage their stress.
1. Focus and work on what you can control
It’s so easy to get emotionally carried away by bad news here and there. Yes, catching the news is necessary to stay aware and take precautions against potential dangers in our area, but we also must beware of how it’s affecting us and our work.
Brain science says that it’s hard for us to think properly when we feel we’re in danger. Our minds narrow quickly and think about only one thing: our survival.
So take a step back from the news and don’t worry about the world outside when you need to take care of your own little immediate world.
2. Fix your heart on the goal
When you feel like giving up because the weight of stress has gotten too much for you to bear, ask yourself: “Why am I working?” That’s the first of the five why’s you can ask yourself to get to the root of your motivation to work.
Your first and most surface-level answer may be the money. This in itself is a good reminder, especially if you have to report to someone else. Think of it this way: your supervisor won’t be there forever. This too shall pass. Knowing how to deal with your supervisor to earn money will help you realize that having a good boss is just a bonus on top of the money that puts food on your table.
You could continue by asking the four other why’s to boost your motivation and continue doing your best as a teacher. Fully understanding your why will help you take care of the what and how of your current challenges.
3. Find a support system
Whether it’s a co-teacher, your boyfriend/girlfriend, or your family, having a support system that listens to you without judgment is a real lifesaver in these trying times.
Pain will always find a way to manifest itself, either through words or events, adding to your already-existing burdens. The pain will worsen if you just let it stay bottled up within you because your stress could cause blockages in your blood vessels and may cause serious illnesses.
Pain is also a megaphone that helps you realize more what’s valuable to you. What keeps you awake late at night? Is it just the work challenges or the students whose lives you’re touching and changing as you teach? Remember that you as a teacher also need to get help from your support system every now and then before you can fully and truly help your students.
4. Have a hobby
Doing something else you love outside of work can help you maintain work-life balance. Don’t feel guilty to give in to what makes your heart come alive, especially if that makes you feel whole and happy. Having a good laugh playing with your pet, feeling the bliss in your painting, or doing some gardening in your backyard will ease away the excess tension that comes from just doing sheer work all day. Both your brain and body need a break to function well. This may also mean binge-watching your favorite Netflix series after work. Go ahead. This is your permission slip. Enjoy!
5. Grit through it
Now, more than ever, this adage rings true: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” There’s no easy way to succeed in any profession or business and even in life in general. You’ve just gotta get through it all if you want to produce a meaningful outcome.
The same is true in teaching. There may be times that look like the end of the road for you. But only you truly know whether you’ll give up or go on. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’ll be correct and the choice you make will be the correct decision. Angela Duckworth in her famous TED talk says, “Grit is the power of passion and perseverance.” So soldier on, teacher. Get your mission accomplished to completion.
So there, dear teacher. Who says life would be easy? Remember this: you’re not destined to break. You’re destined to break through. And hey, you’re not alone in this journey. We’re all in this together. And things will get better as we take on life’s challenges by teaching and helping each other.
Let us know in the comment section if these tips are helpful to you or if you have other stress management tips for teachers. Your contribution to this discussion will surely go a long way.