Thoughts from the Herd - March 2014
Tips for Educators: How to De-Stress Your Life
Dr. Jim Christman
Spring is in the air. We can already see the daffodils peeking through the ground, hear birds singing from the trees, and enjoy new growth buds as they are starting to take shape. Teachers and students alike are making summer plans. Spring also brings the thoughts of TCAP, NAEP, buying a bathing suit, graduations, marriages, test review, evaluation scores and a multitude of other stressors that seem to be around every corner, especially in the spring. In the article “How to De-Stress”, Nick Lang states that there are two lessons that everyone needs to learn in order to be healthy. The first lesson is that stress is a natural and necessary part of life. The second lesson that we need to learn is that too much stress can be detrimental to our health. This is why learning how to de-stress is important.
There are simple things that you can do each day to help your mind unwind so that your body can relax and recuperate from the events of the day. Below are a several different de-stressing techniques that you can do at school or when you get home that will help you feel better almost instantly.
Tip One – Take a walk
It doesn’t have to be for an hour but simply take a few minutes during lunch or at home. Walk (outside if safe and weather permitting) and simply enjoy your surroundings. Try to notice that bird in the tree, images in the clouds, something new in your sphere of vision you’ve not seen before, or perhaps even the work posted by students in the building.
Tip Two – Listen to Uplifting Music or Meditate on Your Favorite Scripture
Re-focus your mind away from the stressors at hand and redirect your thinking to something more positive. We are told in Philippians 4:6 to not worry about anything but to pray and be thankful for what God has already given us. We are also told in verse 8 that we are to focus our thinking on things that are pure, honorable and worthy of admiration. Uplifting or your favorite music will get you humming, singing along, playing air guitar or even using a hair brush as a pretend microphone. Life is good when you are singing along with your favorite group or artist.
Tip Three – Decide What You Can Do Something About and What You Can’t
I know this sounds simplistic, but according to research quoted by Cindy Holbrook in “12 Techniques to Stop Worrying”, 40% of things people worry about will never happen and additionally, 30% of things people worry about have already happened. One of the best techniques I learned during my 35 years in public education and 3 additional years as a professor at Lipscomb University is to separate the things I can do something about and those I can’t. Once I’ve separated those issues, it then makes life much easier to focus my energy, talents and thoughts on areas that I can do something about.
Tip Four – Decide what the “Ideal Would Look like” (vision), and Develop a Plan to Get There
Being proactive reduces the stress of a “life happening to me” mentality. Yes, life does
happen to us, but we have our part in minimizing the stress. One of the largest stressors on
educators in the spring is the state mandated testing. It helps to have a plan of action to deal
with the test schedule, schedule changes, etc. List below are some proactive steps an
educator can take to help reduce the stress:
- Make sure you have done everything you can to prepare your students for the test.
- Decide now when you will start your review and which students need additional review or even re-teaching.
- Enlist parents to help with organizational matters or tutoring as needed to give your students the best chance possible to do well on the upcoming test.
- Clean out some of your files or old materials and supplies (spring cleaning). A clean room and desk somehow helps you feel better about the testing process.
- Set aside this week extra pencils, paper, calculators, etc. to be as prepared as possible for the materials you will need.
- Meet with your team in the next week to determine any unusual logistical issues such as student movement, lunch, breakfast, snacks, etc.
- With your team decide who will bring the team (teachers and support people) donuts, sausage and biscuit or breakfast cake each morning, and if going out to dinner after the testing and where you will go. Be sure to include each person on the team. Make a team celebration and look forward to the celebration as you prepare. Let the anticipated celebration be positive in helping reduce the stress.
- If you believe in prayer, ask God for peace in your life and to reduce the stressors you face (both personally and professionally).
- Finally, once the test results are back. Take the extra effort to stand side-by-side with other team members, especially if any scored lower than expected and encourage them. It will be a time of stress for them and this is the time to help them reduce their stress.
Tip Five – Additional Resources
This article does not allow for a complete thesis on this subject but if you find yourself in stress, please reread the above tips and look up additional information on Google or other search engines under stress reduction, tips on how to stop worrying, etc. Your career, your health and your future may significantly improve if you do.
Holbrook, Cindy. (2008). 12 Techniques to Stop Worrying. (September 24, 2008). Retrieved February 5, 2014,
Lang, Nick W. How to De-Stress – Top 5 ways to De-Stress Yourself. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from www.ezinearticles.com/?How-to-De-Stress.