Stress Management for Teachers: 5 Strategies to Implement TODAY!


Stress management for teachers: five ideas you can put into place today to alleviate burnout. Are you feeling stressed, overworked, and overwhelmed? Is work stress creeping into every other part of your life? Or maybe it has taken over completely. Read on for strategies that you can implement today.

If you need help leaving the classroom, check out the Teacher Career Coach CourseThis step-by-step guide has helped thousands with a transition from teaching. Save time and get support with every step of picking a new path, rewriting your resume, and answering tricky interview questions.

Workplace burnout may seem like the new buzzword lately. But it is a real problem and a disturbing trend that can lead to serious health issues. This is especially true for millennial workers. A Workplace Burnout Survey conducted by Deloitte found that 84 percent of millennials have experienced workplace burnout, compared to 77 percent among all respondents. Statistically speaking, you are likely to experience some form of unmanageable stress at your workplace that affects your life outside of work.

As a young teacher entering the classroom, I would often feel ashamed to admit that I couldn’t handle the workload. I would arrive to work early and stay late setting up lesson plans and grading tests.

My workload was so heavy, that most of my weekends were consumed by the job. I missed out on a lot of personal time with my family and friends and put unneeded strain on my relationships. Can you relate?

Five Stress Management Ideas for Teachers

Let’s talk about a few stress management ideas for teachers who are suffering from burnout. Implementing one or more of these strategies today will help you find some relief.

1. Identify Teacher Burnout

Employee burnout is a syndrome that is defined as experiencing never-ending and unmanageable stress at work. If you feel excessively tired, irritable, demoralized and completely drained of energy at the end of the day, you are probably suffering from burnout. As a teacher, you may have been dealing with it for so long that you don’t even realize the signs anymore.

The first step to better stress management for teachers is to recognize teacher burnout. If you recognize the symptoms described above, it is time to make a plan. Burnout is a real, valid concern that has unfortunately become a sort-of industry standard in education.

With overcrowded classrooms, unrealistic workloads and expectations, dealing with disruptive students and demanding parents, teachers are especially vulnerable to excessive stress. Left unchecked, burnout can lead to severe emotional stress, causing anxiety and depression as well as physical health issues too.

A recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology finds that people suffering from burnout have been linked to higher than normal incidence of an irregular heartbeat. This condition leads to an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and death.

Impact on Students

It’s not only the teacher that suffers; the burnout impacts the students as well. Teachers in high-stress situations tend to have the poorest student outcomes. Feeling like you have failed to give your students the high-quality education that they deserve only compounds the weight of the stress you already feel.

2. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is not selfish and is important to maintaining your emotional and physical health. Giving yourself permission to practice a few self-care strategies throughout the day can relieve the stress you feel during work and greatly impact the burden you’re carrying home.

A few stress management ideas for teachers practicing self-care:

  • When you see a break in the day, take it.
  • Find a quiet space to collect yourself in a more mindful way.
  • Use breathing exercises to reduce your anxiety.
  • Practice meditation to declutter your mind. Some of the top athletes and most successful business leaders rely on mindfulness techniques – and so should you.
  • If weather permits, take a brisk walk out doors. The fresh air will improve your mood and boost your energy.
  • Don’t forget to eat a healthy lunch too. Falling into a trap of eating unhealthy, fatty food is bad for the body and mind.

For more information about alleviating symptoms of excessive stress, check out our article on teacher self-care.

What career outside the classroom is right for YOU? Free Quiz

3. Declutter Your Space

If you have been teaching for a few years, then you have probably already collected more stuff in your classroom than you really need, such as teacher gifts, stacks of papers, school supplies and confiscated contraband. All of these things are not only taking up space in your classroom, but in your mind too.

Decluttering does not have to take hours or days after work, either. Remember, we’re working on stress management for teachers, not taking on more stress! Start with small areas and make cleaning up and organizing part of your weekly routine. You may even be able to involve students during certain down-times. Doling out some of the organization tasks in your classroom can help the kids feel a sense of ownership while practicing those tricky executive functioning skills.

Decluttering using Marie Kondo tips

Marie Kondo, decluttering expert, and author of the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, believes we should only keep items that will truly spark joy in our lives. To successfully declutter your space, you need to make a plan to minimize and stick to it. Visualize how you want your working space to look, then discard or give away items you know you don’t want. Then ask yourself if the remaining items bring your joy.

According to Kondo, you’ll feel the answer calling out to you. If something truly brings you joy, your mood will be elevated and lighter.

If you find yourself looking around your classroom through a fog thinking, “None of this sparks joy for me…” it might even be time to start thinking about bigger changes. Thinking of leaving teaching? 9 signs it’s the right choice.

4. Simplify Your Lesson Plans to Reduce Daily Stress

Minimizing the stress in your life shouldn’t just apply to your surroundings. If your lesson plans are unorganized, complicated and too long, you should consider a process to streamline when and how you teach.

A few ideas for stress management for teachers who need to streamline:

  • Prioritize the learning your students need.
  • Cut out redundant and unnecessary aspects of your lesson plans.
  • Use technology, software and apps that will automate and organize as much as possible. Websites such as Standardsplanner.com, Versal.com, and PlanbookEdu.com offer free and simple plans to make your life easier.
  • Take a few moments to reflect on what is and what is not working. Make adjustments considering both your students’ and your own needs.

5. Top Stress Management for Teachers Strategy: Limit Your Teacher Workload

Teacher burnout and work-life balance are two of the main reasons why teachers quit. One way to limit the stress the overflows into the rest of your life is to set a few boundaries. This strategy will make the biggest, most immediate impact on your stress level outside of work.

These are just some of the ways that you can begin to practice stress management by limiting your teacher workload:

  • Leave work at school. Don’t take it home with you. For you to maintain a healthy work/life balance, you need to draw clear boundaries as to what you allow after work hours.
  • Do not to check your email when you are not at work. Or, if you need to be connected, give yourself a short, set time to check email and reply, then shut it down for the night.
  • Don’t volunteer for things you just cannot handle mentally and learn how to say no effectively. When you become more self-aware about how you respond to certain situations, you’ll know when to say when.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be volunteered. It’s okay to say no to additional demands. One simple sentence that has worked for me every time is, “I’m sorry, but I cannot responsibly take this on right now.”

By implementing some of the ideas in this blog, you’ll be able to evaluate your current workload, see what you need – and what you can offload.

Help for managing teacher stress & burnout

Too many teachers downplay their mental health struggles thinking it’s just “new teacher jitters” or part of the position. My final year of teaching at a toxic school environment completely broke me. After walking away from that experience and finding happiness, I was shocked at how conditioned/numb I had become to being consistently unwell.

You should not feel intense dread about your career on a daily basis, period. If you are miserable more often than happy, let’s try to find solutions to support you:

Recommended reading: The Teacher’s Guide to Self-Care by Sarah Forst. You can also listen to Podcast Episode 14, where Sarah shares actionable advice on how to implement self-care into your routine.

Blog Post: Stress Management for Teachers; 5 Strategies to Implement Today

The Teacher Career Coach Podcast Episode 31: Blake Blankenbecler, Therapy for Teachers

Finally, if you’re struggling day-to-day it may be worth it to look into a therapist. Get started today with TalkSpace, a private, online therapy with flexible plans to meet your needs.

And if managing stress brought on by teaching isn’t enough, it may be time to look into alternative careers. If you’re at a loss when it comes to figuring out your options, check out our free quiz below for customized suggestions teachers transitioning out of the classroom.

Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course