We are fast approaching the end of the school year, and teachers are starting to face the onslaught of demands that comes without fail at this time of the year. The stress of having to finish curriculums, set and mark tests and exams, report-writing, sporting and other extracurricular activities is compounded by having to negotiate their way trough the maze of demanding parents, some needy and unfocused children and their own personal lives.

Teaching is a passion, and it brings so much satisfaction to be a part of helping young minds develop and thrive, but the reality is that teaching is also so incredibly stressful, and our teachers are being stretched beyond their limits.

Tips and Tools for Teachers to Cope

So how can teachers manage their stress levels better?

The following strategies are universal in alleviating stress and overload:

• Avoid – remove the stressors before they create stress and overload
• Anticipate – if you cannot avoid the stressor or the situation, anticipate and plan for overload
• Self regulate – when you are in overload, learn to self regulate in order to maintain calm, focus and control of your reactions

Self regulation strategies are easy and accessible tools and methods that can be used to calm and organise the brain.

Examples include:

• Deep breathing to clam and organise your nervous system
• Movement breaks – walk away from the stressor for 5 minutes, if possible,
• Find a quiet, peaceful space during a break in your timetable where you can listen to music of your choice through headphones or read a book
• Chew something crunchy or chewy
• Apply deep pressure by pushing your hands together or by doing chair sit-ups

Teachers are not superheroes and they do have limits.

Learn to say NO to certain things and be aware about that which causes you stress and overload.  Stay positive, and focus on your achievements and the positive impact that you have and will have on the children you were privileged to impact on during the course of the year.

Annabella Sequeira is a Specialist Sensory Intelligence® Facilitator for Parents and Teachers. She holds a BSc (Occ Ther) degree from the University of Cape Town, backed by 22 years’ experience in both the public and private sector.  She has extensive practical experience in the area of Sensory Integrative Dysfunction in children and is passionate about empowering others to improve functionality and quality of life.

She is also part of our Gauteng-based Senses in Education team who regularly facilitates variousTeacher Training and Parenting Workshops as part of the Sensory Intelligence® offering.