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The Hidden Dangers of Teacher Stress (And What You Can Do About It)

According to a recent survey, teachers are at breaking point trying to cope with the relentless pressures and many  plan to leave the profession in record numbers.

82% of teachers describe their workload as 'unmanageable'

The survey, carried out by the Guardian Teacher Network, found many teachers  are at crisis point. Almost all – 98% – said they are under increasing pressure and 82% described their workload as “unmanageable”. Around three-quarters say their workload is having a serious impact on their physical & mental health .

So, the chances are high that you're under pressure too. After all, in any one teaching day you not only teach, you also manage behaviour, plan lessons, separate fights, assess learning, counsel students, write reports, mark books, do lunch duty, tidy classrooms, create resources, deal with bureaucracy, do bus duty, create displays, attend meetings, speak with parents... the list is endless.

 '5 Quick Ways to Relieve Teacher Stress RIGHT NOW'

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Stress can have DEVASTATING effects on your health

Each of those demands on your time brings it's own high levels of stress which can have DEVASTATING effects on your body and your health. Research suggests that almost ALL illnesses can be attributed to stress in some way because of the harmful effects of raised levels of toxic stress hormones which flood through your body as a result of the stress reponse or Fight or Flight reflex.

High blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, strokes, migraines, inflammation, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, low immunity, skin problems, headaches, back pain, joint problems etc. can all be attributed -either directly or indirectly - to the action of stress hormones like cortisol.

Then there are the knock-on emotional problems which chronic exposure to these hormones and various health complaints often leads to - fear, irritability, anger, frustration, insomnia, forgetfulness etc. All because you are under constant pressure and strain. I like to use the simple analogy of a ‘Stress Bucket’ to explain this…

As you go through your working day in the classroom, each and every time you experience a difficult, worrying or annoying situation – like a noisy class or an unmanageable student - more stress is added to your bucket.

The more stress you have in your bucket, the more the body's Fight or Flight reflex kicks in and the more tense, frustrated and emotional you feel.

Some teachers, (maybe you’re one of them), carry unbelievably large stress buckets around with them all day. Eventually the level of stress gets to the point where even the smallest additional pressure will cause the bucket to SPILL OVER.

This is obviously when arguments and outbursts occur. This is when we start to make mistakes. It’s when we shout more than we teach. Over time, being overloaded with stress like this can lead to serious problems…

…illness, burnout and breakdown.

Believe me I know; I’ve been there. I spent ten years at the chalk face and several years on the senior management team of a special school/behaviour unit in a northern inner city. The students in this setting were EXTREMELY volatile and most of my time was spent in a highly anxious state, feeling that I could completely lose control - or have a heart attack - at any time. 

Being young, I thought I was invincible but the effects of stress on my mood and health soon began to show. At first I just became a LOT more moody and irritable. I snapped at my friends and found myself looking for arguments. Then came the sleep disturbance. I was never a good sleeper but I now found it impossible to switch off and get much-needed rest. Gradually, my weight ballooned, my joints started aching and I had a permanent headache. Many years later, despite having left the profession  to set up a teacher-training business, I completely burned out and developed Chronic Fatigue. I am 100% sure much of the damage to my frazzled adrenal glands and general health was done during my time in tough school settings.

We only start paying real attention when our bodies start to show signs of wear

The problem was that I just didn't consider stress to be such a huge health hazzard at the time. I just accepted it and got on with it as best I could. And I think this is the problem for ANYONE in highly stressful positions such as teachers. We carry on day after day thinking that we're invincible. The only time we pay any attention is when our bodies start to complain, when they start showing signs of wear. And by then, we can have already done a lot of damage.

You can protect your health right now, before it's too late

The best way to deal with stress is to protect yourself BEFORE the effects start to show. You do this by learning to relax deeply so as to reduce your current stress levels, while also developing your resilience and abilities to manage your time so as to reduce the effects of further stress. To return to the Stress Bucket analogy - this is like putting a hole in the bottom of the bucket so as to let stress out while putting a 'cover' over the top so as to stop so much stress getting in. This two-progued approach is very effective.

Since being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue (and developing PTSD as a result of a near-fatal incident) some years ago - and going on to beat both of them - I have been on something of a healing journey. I have tried almost EVERY available therapy and strategy to lower my stress and improve my resilience. And along the way I have found techniques which are tremendously effective. 

I have put some of them in a free e-guide which you can access below. You'll find they can help you stay healthy, calm and happy no matter how stressful your classroom or your life is.

They can help you sleep soundly and relax deeply.

And put you in a state where NOTHING can bother you.

They can also make you more productive and more focused.

Sound good?

Get your copy right now if you haven't already done so...

 '5 Quick Ways to Relieve Teacher Stress RIGHT NOW'

Sign up below for our FREE Guide..

As an extra thank you for signing up, I'll also send you novel, quirky teaching tips by email on a totally irregular & inconsistent basis. You can opt out any time but I'm sure you'll love them!

And if you know of any powerful ways to deal with teacher stress perhaps you could leave them in the comments box below so that other teachers can benefit.

28 comments
Donna Z says 6th May 2016

Yes please Rob, sign me up for ways to deal with stress. Forget the bucket analogy Rob, I had a STRESS DAM (or that dam stress!) and the walls well and truly collapsed! I know all about “confidence and feelings of self-worth being continually eroded”. Stress relief BRING IT ON!!!!! Cheers Donna 🙂

Shawn says 6th May 2016

Yes, pls & thx!!! =)

Adie says 6th May 2016

More you talk about stress more it captures you.

Ian Pratt says 6th May 2016

The idea of the Bucket is very real to me, Had my over spill moment one day just over 2 years ago. Now recovering well, one day at a time, the support of others has been crucial. I have come a long way myself having taken up running which really helps me. would love to share ideas with others.

Christy McCarty says 6th May 2016

Yes, please.

Brenda says 6th May 2016

Bring it on. I need help making it through the last six weeks of school. The students are getting worse by the day!!!!!

Leonie says 6th May 2016

No matter how organised you are there are always unexpected things interrupting your day

Suzanne Murphy says 6th May 2016

Tell me about it! Add to your list 3 new pupils with behaviour issues land into my mixed age, multigrade class 2 weeks ago, I’m finishing my masters, my mum has cancer, and all the normal being a working mum stuff… I am absolutely at breaking point.

Deanna says 6th May 2016

I’d like info on stress relief.

David Ingram says 6th May 2016

I’m a substitute teacher and can only work half days because of the stress.

paulita says 6th May 2016

Please give me the tools to help me deal stressful stressful situations as a teacher.

Jesica says 6th May 2016

thinking of quitting the profession. hitting rock bottom daily after 15 hour days and SLT telling me everything that is wrong with my practice on a daily bases. I can’t smile anymore. This profession has eroded my soul and I have only been teaching 10 years. At 34 I should be at the peak of my career not feeling like I want it to end.

Donna says 6th May 2016

Yes I totally agree with all that you are saying about stress and anxiety in teaching. I am in a school were there always seems to be one member of staff off ill with stress or barely coping in post. I have recently started a mindfulness course to help myself and do feel better for it. Would love to hear your ideas and tips too. Thanks

Danièle Grit says 6th May 2016

Yes please, i’d love to !

Jamie Steels says 6th May 2016

If the tips are as good as those in your book, then I’m in!

    rob says 6th May 2016

    Haha, thanks Jamie! They’re even better – they saved my sanity and my life!!

Rasha says 6th May 2016

I want to know these ways

Michelle St John says 6th May 2016

Yes please! I need stress busters!!

Beth Komulainen says 6th May 2016

I agree with you….stress can really take a toll on one’s health. If you add in family life to school stress, the load becomes even larger. Learning to take time for yourself is critical to survival.

Zulia says 6th May 2016

I am reading this as I am on a two days break from my teaching cause of high blood pressure and terrible migraine. I am working with the younger kids and love it but the pressure of paper work and bureaucracy at school is just unbelievable… I have worked for 15 years and have never contemplated leaving job as much as I do now… Would love to hear some useful tips, Rob… Thank you very much for doing this!

Miroslava Ourtane says 6th May 2016

Hi, yes definitely something that I need… 🙂

Donna says 6th May 2016

Hey, Rob! Wow; powerful and yes, scary, TRUTHFUL stuff. Hit me with some things to help deal, please. I’m at year 21 and it’s just getting more and more intense and disheartening. My doctor told me it’s really taking a toll on me; he’s watched in the past 5 years. My migraines has been off the chain…I love it, but it’s REALLY changed and as devoted as I am? As strong as I am? I’m not sure I can do this much longer. Thanks SO much! You ROCK! This is great! 🙂 PS: I teach 8th grade.

Adil Salman says 6th May 2016

How to reduce teachers’ stress and develop their interest in their or work?

KHALED says 6th May 2016

REALLY I M A TEACHER AND I M VERY VERY TIRED AND I HOPE STOP TEACHING BECAUSE IT S VERY STREESFUL

Reeza Dowlut says 6th May 2016

I would like to know more about teacher’s stress management.

Roger says 6th May 2016

I would like some New and extra tips for managing stress at work, sometimes teaching can be (too) stressful

Carolyn says 6th May 2016

That is the most comprehensive explanation of the impact of stress on the body I have heard. Pity this kind of thinking is not happening in schools (and everywhere else) when the recent stuff about testing and stressing pupils is related to the whole big picture of this constant pressure and lack of proportion in how education is “delivered”. Everyone is running to stand still. They/we need to be calm down so learning can happen and then tests won’t seem like the straw to break the camels’ back. I am doing a course at the moment and it is really interesting to be a student again. I hear tales of stress from the teachers all the time – who are extremely knowledgeable – but are hidebound by ticking boxes and covering their backs. Nothing much changes. Thanks Carolyn

Bishwo Nath Kandel says 6th May 2016

Stress is in any work and everywhere. Stress helps you change positively if you handle it positively.
Whatever the profession we choose, if we are well prepared regarding the types of regular tasks we need to do, and if we are aware of the tasks that come along in the form of challenges, it is likely that we can tackle this so called ‘stress’ and move on. But, the reality it that, though we are clear regarding our jobs or responsibilities, situations vary every now and then. What you plan to handle the things for now might get completely different for the next issue. So, we need to be ‘Situational Leader’, no matter what.
Well, health is what matters the most. So everyone needs to take care.
Drink plenty of water.
Stay healthy!
Happy Teachers Appreciation Week!

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