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Best Way To Deal With Stress? Be Proactive

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/17/2012

Instead of complaining about all the things that go wrong during the first few weeks of teaching school, do something about it.

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    Lessons from Mr. Neverstress

    "Be Proactive," Mr. Neverstress taught me. "Of all the ways to reduce stress for teachers, that's the best advice I can give."

    "So," I responded. "The secret to teacher stress management and ways to reduce stress for teachers can be summarized in two words: Be proactive."

    "Yes, Be proactive. That's the secret to teacher stress management."

    Here are some simple ways to reduce stress for teachers:

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    Classroom Procedures

    Where do students turn in assignments? When do you collect homework? How do you handle group work? When do you take attendance? Most veteran teachers can recall the chaos of year one. I remember the first time I had students come get a book from the bookshelf: forty animals grabbing, pinching, laughing, and jostling for position to grab a book they probably didn’t even read. I didn’t just imagine it. I experienced it. I am now in the fetal position under my desk in a cold sweat. Please, heed this cautionary tale of unnecessary teacher stress and establish procedures.

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    Take Care of your Health

    One of the most obvious ways to reduce stress for teachers goes unheeded. Teachers come back from summer break looking fit and feeling great. By October, their pants are tight and they transition into the previous year’s wardrobe. By December they can be found huddled in a corner singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and eating Reeses Pieces for lunch.

    Set up a regular exercise schedule when the school year begins. Don’t worry if you need to ease up a bit from your summer routine. It’s natural for your body to be tired when school begins. If you need motivation, sign up for an event—a fun run, triathlon, Wii contest—to keep you focused on staying fit. Stocking your classroom with healthy snacks and packing a lunch provide healthy alternatives to vending machines and cafeteria mystery foods.

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    Just Make it to Halloween

    Remember the first few weeks are the worst few weeks. Too often, teachers mistake the stress and inconveniences of August and September for the entire year. Things get easier. My motto for first year teachers has always been “just make it to Halloween!" During my first year teaching, everything calmed down at the end of October. As I gained experience that date has moved up. Although a completely stress free school year requires experience, skill, and in some cases, miracles, being proactive will reduce unnecessary stress from your life.