This has been a requested topic both directly and indirectly. I’ve talked to fellow teachers and fellow colleagues about how they are managing their stress and it’s been a struggle. I’ve also talked to friends that are not teachers, but friends that have big plans they are preparing for and it can be a stressful time.
I promise this is not a teacher post but an everyone post. Everyone gets stressed. It’s a part of life. But the way you manage your stresses directly impacts your mental health. If you control your stress you control your mental health. If you don’t control your stress, well thats how mental illness like anxiety, depression, OCD, etc. can fall into place. I’m not a doctor or anything, but I learned this from observing, experiencing and then learning from these lessons.
I developed 10 things that help me manage my stress. Once I started doing these 10 things, stress became something that is inevitable in my life but sometimes enjoyable. If I feel stress coming on with deadlines and work, I know I’m being a great teacher and it makes me feel good.
So here are my 10 Stress Management Tips.
Manage Your Time
Less Time = More Stress. If you know you have more work to do in the day, wake up early and plan your day hour by hour when you’re going to get all this work done. When you wake up at 11am by the time you eat and make your to-do list, your day is already halfway over and you will be frying your brain at midnight. Organize your time. If you give yourself an hour to complete a task, you will be more likely to sit down, be productive and make sure you get this done in an hour.
Create “Your Space”
I developed a stress space. Whenever I’m feeling stressed, I go to my room and turn on my oil diffuser, my salt rock lamp, my heater, my lights and I light some candles. It’s like as soon as the heat turns on, I feel cozy, and smell all these calming scents, my stress is immediately turned off. Create “your space” that you can go to when you’re stressed and feel it all slip away.
Work at Work
I talked about this in my teacher evening routine. Do your work at work. I stay an hour or sometimes later after work to make sure I’m going home with no extra work. You won’t be productive at home and it’s so easy to take a look at your bed and be like nah, I’ll do this tomorrow. Stay that extra hour and motivate yourself to get this work done so you can go home and do whatever you want.
If you work at home, find a space in your home (far away from your bed) to call your “work.” Do your work at work.
Move Your Body
Working out is the easiest way to burn off stress. After I go to the gym and work out, my body feels so refreshed. When I work out, I visualize myself sweating the stress. It’s a gross concept I know, but it works so well. Every time I sweat in the gym, it takes my stress with it. I feel so much better after. Also, when I practice Yoga, the strength and balance I feel with every pose makes me think “Yes! I can do this.” I feel so motivated and less stressed.
You don’t have to go to the gym or do fancy yoga poses to feel this relief. But like I said: sweat the stress away. Get yourself moving. Feel strength and feel balance. Whatever that takes. Have a dance party with yourself while you brush your teeth. Do some jumping jacks. Do some stretches. Whatever it takes to get your body moving.
Incorporate Self Care Daily
I wake up one hour before I actually need to so I can read, journal and meditate. My entire evening routine is all things self care. But if I didn’t do that, I would be spending day after day just working, eating and sleeping. I mean if that was all my life consisted of, of course I will be stressed and miserable. But in order for you to be successful not just at work but anywhere, you need to take of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Take time out of the day to do things for you, whether its reading, journaling, watching TV, doing arts and crafts, listening to music, playing music etc. Set aside time everyday just for you.
Make Sure You’re Eating & Sleeping
Essential. I know people say “Make sure you eat healthy and sleep 8 hours a day.” Which yes, that is ideal. Eating fruits and veggies while getting a solid 8 hours of sleep is the ideal situation. But I want to go back to the basics. Make sure you are EATING. Sometimes focusing on creating healthy meals can be stressful in itself. Make sure you are eating in general. Try not to skip breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eat at least something. Having McDonalds for dinner is not the most brain power fuel to put in your system but hey, IT’S FOOD. Some people just work themselves so hard that they skip meals and that’s even worse for you. How can your brain work on an empty stomach. I know sometimes you just don’t feel hungry but trust me, your brain is like FEED ME. Even if it’s just a few carrots or a yogurt, eat something.
Same with sleeping. Honestly, I have to get 8 hours of sleep or else I get grumpy. But there are some that work themselves so hard that they get 3-5 hours or maybe nothing at all. What I would do is, think of a time to devote to bed time. For example, let’s say you choose 9pm to go to bed. Okay, be in bed at 9pm. You don’t need to go to sleep at 9pm. Read a book. Write in your journal. Watch TV. Scroll through Instagram. But be laying down with NO WORK in bed at the time you set for yourself.
Take One Day Out Of The Week To Do Something Fun
Whether it’s Monday afternoons or Saturday nights, have a designated time to go out with friends or family. Do something fun. Go out to dinner, go shopping, go to the movies, take a day trip somewhere, etc. For me, I designate Saturdays as my fun days. I go shopping, I go out to eat, I go to basketball games, etc. Saturdays are my days out for enjoyment.
Have A Planning System
Buy a planner. Get a bullet journal. Use Google Calendar. Use Apple Calendar. Use an app on your phone. Use notes on your phone. Whatever it is, figure out your ideal planning system. Something that will stick. Something that will make you feel good after accomplishing what is ever on your to-do list. Your planning system should have a calendar in it, space for to-do’s and priorities/objectives.
A planning system I learned from my favorite youtuber Renee Amberg is writing down three main goals for the day. No matter what, accomplishing those three goals for the day and you’ve accomplished what you need to for the day. Granted, I have more than three things I like to get done in a day, but instead of having a long list of things to do, have three things and then secondary goals.
For example, my to do list for today is: (just so you know, I’m writing this on a Sunday)
- Write my blog posts for the week
- Go to the gym
- Grocery shopping
- Smoothie prep
Out of that list, three things I HAVE to get done are:
- Write blog posts for the week
- Grocery shop
- Smoothie prep
So those are the three things I need to get done today which means the gym, laundry and cleaning are all secondary things to get done today. I will accomplish these tasks AFTER I accomplish my top three.
If you have something that is due a few weeks from now, start working on it today! I’m working on tasks that literally are not due until May… Get working on your tasks now, so you’re not stuck doing all this work the very night before.
A tip for procrastination is to utilize your weekends. Or set aside as little as 10 minutes a day to do something that’s not due for a while.
If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, sit in silence and just breathe. Count your breaths as you inhale and as you exhale. Focus on where you are breathing from. Is it your tummy? Is it your chest? Is it your shoulders? Inhale for eight, exhale for eight. Inhale for four and exhale for four. Take time to just take a deep breath, pause, and then keep going.
Those are my ten tips for stress management! I hope they are helpful in some way. If you have any other ways you manage stress, comment them below!