By the time the school bell rings every day, you've probably made more decisions than a Fortune 500 executive, been on your feet longer than a marathon runner, negotiated peace agreements any diplomat would envy, and given your vocal cords a workout that rivals anything Mariah Carey or Jennifer Hudson go through. What can you do to reduce the stress? You can't check into a spa for six weeks, but you can benefit from this collection of stress-busting strategies from experienced teachers who survived those first difficult months of teaching from September to December, and beyond!

  • Break down whatever you have to do into smaller tasks. If you have to tackle a beast, carve it into nibble-sized hors d'oeuvres.

  • Think of things that make teaching fun for you - and do them!

  • Deal openly with a colleague who has bothered or upset you before the situation festers.

  • Try not to take things personally because often comments aren't meant to be digs.

  • Stay in close touch with nature. Talk to classroom pets, take a class outdoors if weather and school policy permit it, open the windows at snack time, find a way to incorporate the change of seasons and nature walks into your curriculum.

  • Make time during the school year for your hobbies. Don't wait for summer vacation.

  • Apologize when you're wrong.

  • Put a cartoon or photo that makes you laugh in you plan book or desk drawer and look at it when you need a boost.

  • Take a walk during lunch, a planning period, or after school. During your walk, don't think about the things you have to do.

  • Steer clear of the coffee pot in the faculty room. Too much caffeine can make you nervous and irritable.

  • Keep in mind that no matter what colleagues, your principal, students, or parents think or say, you're basically a good teacher who can't please all the people all the time.

  • Don't listen to the rumors that fly around the school.

  • Give yourself permission to do absolutely nothing for five minutes a day — and not feel guilty about it.

  • Just say no. Politely refuse to take on more projects than you can handle, even if a colleague, your principal, or a parent asks you to.

  • Be grateful to have a meaningful job.


This article originally appeared in Teacher magazine, published by Scholastic.