Working Through Teacher Anxiety

Jan 1, 2017 | Back To School, Teacher Rants, Teacher Wisdom | 13 comments

Working Through Teacher Anxiety. Some things to help calm your nerves as a teacher.

Are you a teacher?  Do you have anxiety? (Those answers are both yes for me).  Whether you deal with anxiety on a day to day basis or are just anxious about the many stressors that comes with teaching, here are some ways for Working Through Teacher Anxiety.

  • Allow yourself to not to accomplish everything on your to-do list.  As teachers, we are SUPER busy while we are teaching.  Say to yourself, it’s OK that I did not get everything.  It’s OK.  I look at my to-do list as a working document.  I know that for every one thing I cross off, I will add something else because a teacher’s job is never done.
  • Designate time for you, your family, and teaching.  For the longest time, I would work, work, work. More seasoned teachers would always caution me about working so much but I figured if I could just get more done I would sleep better.  The thing is, there is ALWAYS something to do and you won’t sleep better because the list is never complete.  Once I had children I really understood this.  You don’t have time to do it all BUT you can say today I will work on teaching for 2 hours and then be done.  Set yourself some limits and stick to them.  This will help hugely with the feeling of anxiety.
  • Stay busy.  This sort of piggybacks on above.  If you have nothing to do for yourself or your family, teachers default to working on school stuff.  No.  Put it down, go get a pedicure, go play a board game with your kids.  If you don’t make the effort, you will default back to your giant to-do list.  Likewise, if you are working on school stuff, STAY OFF FACEBOOK and Pinterest.  If you are anything like me, social media is a part of my relaxation strategy (when done in moderation) and so when I am working I say away.  It’s too easy to get distracted and feel like you are busy when you are really not and the next thing you know is that your 2 hours is done and you got nothing done except finding 18 more things to do for your class.
  • Talk to yourself.  Sounds crazy but I do this a lot.  I stop what I am doing.  I say to myself in my head literally “I am letting go of everything right now.”  I do this to clear my head so I can talk to myself logically about situations.  Depending on what is causing the stress, I will say something to myself to acknowledge that it’s OK and I got this.  Another thing I will say is “I am letting go of”.  It sounds really crazy, but it helps to clear your mind, acknowledge, and move on.
  • Act like everything is ok.  Now, I am not telling you to avoid your emotions.  Trust me, I get it.  But, the way you can make everything OK is by acting OK.  By making a conscious choice to be OK with your situation, you just may start to feel OK.  (It’s a counseling concept called cognitive dissonance).
  • Be healthy.  Again, goes a little with everything else mentioned above, but still very important.  Excercise can help.  Eating right can help.
  • Look for the humor.  Sometimes we just need to lighten up and look for the fun in the situation.  I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s important to be lighthearted and laugh!  Now, I’m not suggesting going to laugh therapy or laughing yoga (LOL) but sometimes you need to just have fun and see the humor in things.  Let’s start now, click here to read our Inappropriate Read Aloud Books Teachers Love.
  • Accept that everything is not Pinterest perfect.  Images on Pinterest and other social media platforms are made to be shared and the way that this is done is to make them look perfect and pretty.  The thing is, that may be real for a few teachers, but it is not really for 99% of the teachers out there.  I never had a Pinterest perfect classroom, just the same as my house and our meals are not Pinterest perfect.  Just remember to keep it all in perspective.
  • Avoid toxic people and situations.  If you have anxiety, it is SO important for you to surround yourself with people who uplift you.   My anxiety is mostly based around having the time to do everything and if I am wasting my time on things (or people) that are bringing me down it is not healthy.  I make a conscious effort to surround myself with others who uplift me and you should too.  Now, I understand that sometimes you are forced to work with people who are not the most positive, but you can make the choice.
  • Talk to someone you trust.  A teacher friends, the Simply Kinder Teacher Facebook Group, a family member.  (I would caution you about talking to your significant other though because you don’t want this to interfere with your day to day relationships).
  • Talk to a professional if you need.  There is NOTHING wrong with getting counseling for professional reasons.  I have been there and it can help HUGELY.

There you have it.  Some ways that I keep my anxiety under control.  Do you have any tips for keeping it under control?  Please share in the comments below because it could REALLY help out another teacher.

13 Comments

  1. Christy inglis

    Thank you!!!’ I️ needed this tonight!!!

    Reply
  2. Karen

    I agree completely- try to do the best you can, in the time you have to do it.
    Don’t beat yourself up because it’s not perfect or because you need a life.
    You’re doing your best guys!

    Reply
  3. Stephanie

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Being ultra prepared and doing my best to meet each student’s needs are two ways I cope with anxiety. Your post helps me to know my coping mechanisms might be part of the problem, and there are healthier ways to manage it.

    Reply
  4. Susan

    It’s like your in my head and new exactly what to say to make me calm down. I love your advice, and will definitely try this. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Diane Lee

    I am not a new teacher, but I can relate to all of those things above. Thank you for such a well-written post. My giant to-do list IS never ending! But thats okay…I’ll never finish it…and thats okay!

    What a nice message for the new year! Thank you

    Reply
  6. Samantha

    Oh man! Balance is my goal this year because 2016 was about my students 110% of the time. I spent my afternoons, weekends, nights, summer (I taught summer school and then prepped every afternoon for hours) the whole year dedicated to getting my to do list done to help my students. I teach students with severe autism and feel guilty if I don’t get to something.

    This year I’m going to find balance and try to let go of some of my anxiety. Thank you for the reinforcer that it’s okay to let go a little.

    Happy new year!

    Reply
  7. Jess

    I started therapy sessions just over a month ago to deal with amount of stress and anxiety that after 9 years of teaching has led me to. Home life changed for me a lot this fall which just exacerbated it which led me to therapy and medication.

    I’m thinking of taking a leave next month to get my mind in check, step back and reflect. I am a mother first and while teaching is a big love of mine, in my current position it’s just not fun at all. I’d hate to stop but I’m at least taking a break til my home life settles and I could find a position where I’m not being taken advantage of or feel like I’m babysitting.

    Thanks for your post.

    Reply
  8. Bev

    I’m sitting here with tears running down my face. It’s January 2, I’ll be back in the classroom tomorrow and yes, I have spent a great deal of Christmas break looking through blogs, Pinterest… you name it, looking for ways to enhance my teaching and classroom. This, after 39 years of teaching, with (definite) plans of retiring this June. I am printing, and tacking, your article to the wall by my desk and am also giving copies to some coworkers who I care about deeply and worry that they are following the path I have travelled for years.
    You would think that, after hearing my son say MANY years ago that my favorite thing must be teaching because that’s all I do, that I would have “smartened up” and made some adjustments but that’s sadly not the case.
    Anyway… thank you for the article. I will read it often and will strive to live the message you share as I end my journey as an educator.

    Reply
    • Mary

      As I sit here as a young educator only in my second year, working on my masters, still having time for friends and family, and trying to live up to the expectations that I set for myself, or I feel like are set for me by what I see as examples of other teachers who have been in the profession much longer than myself, I enjoy reading these strategies on how to manage the anxieties that come along with the job of being a teacher. I plan on posting these on my quotes board in my classroom! Thanks for all of the handy tips, and I hope you have a great remainder of the year!

      Reply
  9. Itsaratrace

    Thank you for posting this!it is hard when you love your job but it fuels your driven personality.
    There are a couple other things that I have found helpful:
    1. Asking myself “what’s the worst that would happen if…?”
    2. Making myself take a few minutes to be still.
    3. Purposely slowing down.

    My anxiety also is correlated with time. I feel like from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed it is a race to get in more than I have time for. When the kids are in the classroom, I am anxious about having time to get activities finished. When my planning time rolls around, I am anxious to get all my stuff done so I don’t end up staying after school. I wish I had a better answer/method for dealing with this anxiety with time

    Reply
  10. Chelle

    Great Article! I am a 4th year education student who deals with regular anxiety. As I am approaching the end of my degree I find myself very anxious about a first time job and how things will all play out!

    Reply
  11. Christin Payne

    Love this post! ❤️ I always just take things one day at a time. There are many days as a teacher that I feel like I am barely staying a float. With all the assessments, meetings, paperwork, etc., I constantly remind myself about why I do my job and those 18 smiling faces that come through the door every morning make it so worth it. My teaching motto is my assessments always get finished on time and I never leave the end of the year without finishing everything required, so just take every day, hour and minute at a time and it will all get finished! Happy New Year!

    Reply
  12. Amy Lalande

    Thank you So much for posting!!! Im in the same boat and I love your suggestions!! ?

    Reply

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