Don't sweat it, teach
The job of a teacher is one that is often taken for granted, but teaching a group of any age is no joke. Trying to keep them interested, inspired, motivated, and educated is no easy feat.
Psychiatrist Dr Shane Alexis defines stress as one going beyond one's physical or emotional capacity at a particular time. This can lead to both physical and mental problems, and teachers are susceptible to that because of the pressure of the classes' performances.
Alexis notes that a GSAT, CXC or CSEC teacher would feel added pressure because these are major examinations for the students. If students perform below par, the blame is immediately placed on the teacher and persons are often unkind to them.
Oftentimes, persons seem to forget that teachers have families and balancing everything can become a problem and cause a 'pressure cooker situation', as Alexis phrased it. Not managing one's stress levels can lead to depression and suicide, the inability to function effectively, doubting one's true potential, and death, which we have seen in our very classrooms.
If one is already susceptible to hypertension, diabetes, and mental or emotional issues, one will have to monitor these illnesses in order to keep them under control.
How to manage your stress:
- It is important that one ensures that one does continuous self-evaluation on both a professional and family or personal level. You should ask yourselves if you are taking on more than you can handle. Yes, you might have handled a class of 50 last year, but this year it can become overwhelming, and that is fine, but you have to recognise your limitations and try to fix them. If you cannot manage, do not be afraid to speak up. Share your burden and it is also fine to ask for help.
- Evaluate and pay attention to risk factors and do not add to it. One is always looking for an outlet, but if you already have a problem, do not stop taking medication. If you are stressed, do not add pressure on your liver by drinking excessively or smoking.
- Make time for your hobbies. Take advantage of the school facilities. Have some fun by being creative with your fellow art teachers and every school has a field or court where one can play a sport. Alexis also pointed out that there is even a teachers' football league. Find a way to blow off the steam.
- Be a support system for each other with a support group, so that you have an outlet to share your common goals and stress. Then it will be much better knowing that you are not alone.
- Alexis noted that we would much prefer to know that there were quick fixes to overcome stress, but this requires fundamental lifestyle changes. Commit to yourself that you will take care of yourself. Make it your point of duty to eat well, to exercise and to put yourself first.