Within the first few weeks of school, there will be many new demands made of you: new texts, new students, new techniques, new schedules, and a new way of life. It is an exciting as well as stressful time for new teachers. In the midst of all this excitement, you may notice some physical and emotional reactions to the new demands. Understanding what is taking place and how to cope with it is very important to the beginning teacher.
Understand that the only people without stress are in the cemetery! It is not so much the stress in our lives that hurts us but how we respond to it. You will find that teaching can be very stressful--sometimes almost unbearable. But many have survived it and you can, too. Here are some useful techniques and "preventive medicine" to keep you from becoming a drop-out:
- Exercise. After a day of teaching, you owe it to your body to shake off the dust. It will revive you. The best cardiovascular activities include walking, swimming, and jogging.
- Leave your teaching at school. If you must lug home school work, get it done early in the evening. Better yet, do it at school and leave it there.
- Don't schedule all of your leisure time. You live by a schedule all day long. Leave yourself some "open space."
- Get plenty of sleep. If you are well rested, problems do not always seem so large.
- Pursue a project or hobby. Find something that requires so much concentration that you forget about school for a while.
- Find a friend. Enlist a trusted listener. Talking a problem out won't make it go away, but it will relieve some of the stress associated with the problem.
- Don't procrastinate. Having something "hanging over you" can cause more tension than the project is worth.
- Don't feel that you must do everything. You can't and you won't. So why worry about it?
- Keep a "things to do" list. Review it daily and do at least one or two things. As the list gets smaller, you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Recognize and accept your limitations. Most of set unreasonable and perfectionist goals for ourselves. But, we can never be perfect, so we can come to feel a sense of failure or inadequacy no matter how well we perform.
- Learn to tolerate and forgive. Intolerance and judging others often lead to frustration and anger. Try to really understand the other person's concerns and fears.
- Learn to plan. Disorganization breeds stress. Having too many projects going at the same time leads to confusion, forgetfulness and a sense of uncompleted tasks.
- Plan ahead. Develop your own method of getting things done in an orderly manner.
- Be a positive person. Avoid criticizing others. Try to focus on the good qualities of those around you. Excessive criticism of others inevitably reflects on you.
- Learn to play. You need to escape from the pressures of life and have fun regularly. Find pastimes or hobbies regardless of your level of ability.
- Rid yourself of worry. A study has shown that 40 percent of the items people worry about never happen; 35 percent can be changed; 15 percent turn out better than expected; 8 percent involve needless concern; and only 2 percent really deserve attention.