22 Workplace Stress Relief Tips for Teachers, by Teachers
It’s no secret that teachers are stressed. 75% experienced symptoms of stress in 2017 compared with the national average of 62%, according to a poll by YouGov. This Mental Health Awareness Week, we were keen to find out how teachers cope with extra workloads and work-life balance across the country. Plenty answered the call, and gave us loads of inspiring stress relief tips to help teachers currently in the throws of exams!
The PlanBee team lists their own stress relief tips
We enlisted the help of our team of former teachers to discuss the stress management methods they tried during term time.
1) “I made sure that I always took in a decent lunch to work - and that I actually ate it! Before I remember missing far too many lunches and I'm sure I was more stressed and irritable in the afternoons because of it.” (Catherine at PlanBee)
2) “Book a class for one night a week - this really made a difference in my week! If it's paid for in advance you're more motivated to go and do something that isn't teacher related. I did a creative writing course. Really good to have something to look forward to in the week, even if it does mean your marking won't be quite so up to date. Making sure you don't lose your outside interests is really important in my opinion.” (Becky at PlanBee)
3) “Not getting sucked into things that aren't important (like making an entire replica of a borrowers house out of a cardboard box for the kids to interact with). Can be very easy to look at the classrooms on Pinterest and feel like you aren't doing things creatively enough, or as well as anyone else. Spending hours transforming reading corners and things are fun but they don't actually (in my opinion) have a massive impact on learning."
4) “Make sure you don't spend the whole lunch hour in your classroom (marking books, preparing the afternoon lessons, etc) - spend at least some of it in the staffroom chatting to colleagues (about something other than work!), or try to go for a short walk if possible.” (Laura at PlanBee)
5) “Go for a quick walk outside if you can; a quick walk outside always picked me up a bit for the afternoon!” (Oli at PlanBee)
6) “NOT talking about school with friends and family. This always helped me put anxieties about school into perspective. My worries about school always seemed smaller after chatting with people 'outside the bubble'!”
7) “Be assertive: an important skill for your own wellbeing in school. Teachers are frequently asked to produce reports, plan, assess materials, create homework tasks, type letters to parents and more. Colleagues will ask you for something ‘ASAP’, but if you unquestioningly agree to prioritise the requests of others over your own tasks, you’ll end up piling on the stress. No one is going to thank you, or even remember, that you always say yes straight away anyway, so why stress yourself out? It took me a long time to learn this!”
Primary teachers list their own stress relief tips
8) Keeley - Eat that frog!
"I think of the thing that stresses me out the most: a difficult conversation, task, concern - that’s the frog! Tackle it first and eat it up. If I have a list of tasks to consume, I eat the uglier frog first! Prepare a list the night before so you’re ready to tackle the beat the next day. This method helps me get through it all.”
9) Maria - Write ‘To Do’ lists in categories
"Things I must get done today, tomorrow, during PPA, at the weekend, by half term, or just 'non-essential'. Include marking. It's really easy to feel overwhelmed during a tough week, and the panic starts setting in. Before you know it, it feels like you will never get back on top of things. Check out our How to Prioritise When EVERYTHING is a Priority blog.
“If it still feels like a lot, consider delegation: could the children self-mark their maths tomorrow? Could I delegate something to my TA or partner class teacher? Could one of the jobs wait a while?
“Finally, just focus on the small list left for today and feel good about accomplishing it!”
10) Anne-Marie - Crochet!
"A lovely ball of yarn, a hook and my imagination: a great way to switch off.”
11) Amy - Running.
"I started a couple of years ago with the couch to 5k and have recently completed my first half marathon; excellent for mental health and wellbeing.”
12) Lucy Marie - Drinking prosecco with friends
"...usually at a book club.”
13) Karen - Golden Moments.
"Jenny Mosley advocates taking at least one Golden Moment per day: bathe yourself in positivity. Sit very still on your own, maybe whilst sipping a brew, could be a five-minute lie-down. Think “Aren’t I lucky?” and think of the ‘cards’ that you have to cherish – your health, the love in your life. Mindfulness techniques really work; just do it.”
14) Carly - Focus on things that make your happy
"Going for a walk during lunchtime; cooking something interesting from a recipe that I've never made before; getting away for the weekend, even if just to see family.”
15) Anita - Hitting the gym
"...but you do have to be ultra-organised to make sure you make time for that window of time! It’s such a good mind-clearer and has an immediate impact, usually within the first ten minutes.”
16) Courtney - Timekeeping
"I leave work at five or earlier and try to do minimal work that evening. I also do Zumba or swimming once a week even if I am busy, and ensure that I have one day at the weekend without doing ANY work.”
17) Marie - PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) at home
"I can decide what is a priority which helps me to sleep at night. I can focus on my own surroundings without the pressure of staff or children to distract me.”
18) Ondine - I go for a swim, walk or some form of after-school activity
"I do something to take my mind off work for a bit – even better if you do it with a friend.”
19) Emilie - A fruit rota for the staff room!
"It makes us all giggle as everyone tries to outdo each other. We started with a punnet of grapes, then fruit kebabs and now we have fruit which is cut and shaped as cakes! Keeps us happy and healthy!”
20) Carlos - Meeting with staff at lunchtime
- "and after school to socialise and have a giggle. Much-needed wind-down time.”
21) Joanne - I get to the staffroom every lunchtime to socialise
"A giggle with colleagues makes you realise you're all going through the same challenges.”
22) Sue - Pay a cleaner
"It’s not the cheapest thing but it relieves my weekends from all those tedious jobs. To me, it’s worth every penny.”
Take the sting out of lesson planning with PlanBee
We'd love to hear your stress relief tips to help our community of teachers. If we’ve missed out your favourite go-to stress reliever, get in touch with us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add your suggestion to the guide!
We hope that you found this helpful. If you’re struggling to juggle your workload with the demands of weekly lesson planning, take a look at our time-saving cross-curricular topic bundles – big collections of thematically-linked lesson plans plus slides, activities and resources.