Workplace stress is on the rise. That is bad news since, as we now know, stress can cause or exacerbate disease. Educators have stresses related to student behavior, workload pressure, observations, evaluations and more. Guidance counselors and other related service providers struggle with unmanageable caseloads; school secretaries contend with competing demands.
Many are reluctant to express their stress, fearing it will be perceived as weakness. But it’s vital to recognize and treat workplace stress and anxiety before it worsens.
Here are some signs of workplace stress:
- You shut down, retreating into automatic mode at work, becoming quieter and more tense;
- You arrive home exhausted;
- You isolate yourself and withdraw socially;
- You become irritable and angry and develop more frequent illnesses;
- You act out by drinking more or sleeping more or have trouble sleeping and start taking sleeping pills;
- You lose your appetite or overeat;
- If your stress increases, you may give up and stop doing lesson plans or skip meetings.
Tips for managing fears and anxiety
- Change your mindset. Interrupt repetitious negative thoughts with positive messages to yourself and calmly plan ways to improve the situation.
- Keep a joy journal in which you list five good things that happened in the day; this alone can reset your mood.
- Make time to get restful sleep.
- Unplug and recharge. Commit to an exercise regimen that fits your schedule.
- Put time and energy into building healthy, deep relationships with others.
- The acronym AWARE is a mnemonic device to help you remember a sequence of strategies to cope with a spike in stress and anxiety.
Accept the anxiety. Don’t try to fight it.
Watch the anxiety. Assess your level of fear on a scale of 1 to 10. Do breathing exercises, remembering to breathe longer on the out-breath. (Breathing exercises are listed in the additional resources link below.)
Repeat the above steps in your mind if necessary.
Expect the best.