The work-life balance basics: top stress-busting tips for teachers

Life coach and former teacher Chris Hunt has put together some steps for taking control of your teaching workload. Here are the first six from the Guardian…

1. Sort out your priorities. Make a list of the things that are important to you and decide when you are going to give them some time. This is not just a work list: your family life, your interests are all part of your priorities. This will help you to decide if it is more important to take your children to the cinema, or prepare a lesson in more detail because you are being monitored.

2. Tell people firmly and politely that you won’t have time or be able to do something at work. This could be your head of department, or it could even be your class. Both of them will respect you for telling the truth. Headteachers are not impressed by someone who just says “yes” all the time, they are just grateful that someone is willing to do extra work. Saying no to something can be hard but if you know you are going to have to say no then practise what you will say beforehand and stick to your guns. The first time you do it will be the hardest and you can always offer to help out on another occasion.

3. Put aside some time every week where you can just be yourself. You don’t have to do something active like go out for a run, (although that’s good to get the endorphins working which help to make you feel good.) You might like to meditate, read a book for an hour or simply just sit and stare.

4. Remember, you may enjoy it but school is work. It’s great to enjoy your job, which means that at first you won’t resent all the extra time you put into it. But if you keep on putting that extra effort in, you will start to resent it, and so will the people around you. Also if you put in lots of extra effort and don’t put anything back into you then that is when you are at risk of burning out. Your brain is like a bank; withdraw too much from it without making the odd deposit and you will feel a deficit. Your body will tell you you are stressed.

5. Swap your self-defeating internal script for a more positive one. You might say to yourself: “If I don’t get this marking done, I won’t be able to see my friends this weekend.” Instead you could say: “I’ll just finish this marking and then I’ll contact my friends.” Also if you have negative voices around you, take yourself away from them. People love to moan and sometimes we all need to let off steam but don’t surround yourself with the perpetual moaners in the staffroom; they will bring you down.

6. Live in the present moment, not the future. Anxiety about the future is one of the chief causes of stress. We can all spend hours worrying about what ifs; better to focus on the things you know are real and true not ones you can not determine or influence.

See more (including all 10 top tips from Chris Hunt) at:  The work-life balance basics: 10 stress-busting tips for teachers

What would be your top stress busting tip for teachers? Please share via Twitter or in the comments…

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  1. In the same way that stress affects our physiology (breathing rate etc.) so deliberate focus on breathing exercises to slow down our physiology can reduce stress. It is impossible for the body to be calm and stressed at the same time.

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