Best Way to Deal with Stress and Depression as a Teacher

Sadly, one of the major causes of people leaving the teaching profes­sion is stress-related illness. This is no surprise when you consider how stressful the job can be. Many teachers, particularly those who are new to teaching, often feel completely overwhelmed by the pressures of the job. Perhaps what is more worrying is that they come to accept that this is simply part of what teaching is all about, and can often end up exhausting themselves trying to meet the many demands.

While all jobs have a certain element of stress and challenge to them, when your job becomes a constant uphill struggle and it’s begin­ning to make you miserable, then it is time to stop, take some time to chill out. and reassess what you really want out of your career.

Depress Teacher Best Way to Deal with Stress and Depression as a Teacher

Never be ashamed to admit that you are having problems or difficulties. It is much better to ask for help than try to struggle on. Stress is not a sign of weakness.

Stress can affect you physically, behaviourally, mentally and emo­tionally. If you are already exhibiting signs of excessive tiredness and fatigue, this is a sure sign that your health is being affected. Constant or repeated stress can even contribute to major illnesses such as heart disease, ulcers, diabetes and severe depression (stress and depression are frequently linked, because prolonged, negative stress can have a considerable impact on the body’s serotonin level).

Major symptoms of stress include:

  •  Excessive tiredness or fatigue
  •  Sleep disorders such as insomnia
  •  Nervousness or irritability
  •  Substance abuse such as alcohol, nicotine or other stimulants
  •  Changes in appetite
  •  Headaches
  •  Nausea and digestive complaints
  •  Decrease in concentration and memory
  •  Depression

Stress, depression and anxiety should always be taken seriously. These are real illnesses and require proper, professional help and guidance. If a medical/professional considers you to be suffering from one of these illnesses, ensure that you listen.

Symptoms of depression include:

  •  Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying
  •  Significant changes in appetite and sleeping
  •  Persistent tiredness, fatigue and lethargy
  •  Severe mood swings or changes
  •  Loss of motivation or interest in former enthusiasms
  • Unexplained physical symptoms – aches, pains, nausea, etc.
  •  Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Many teachers believe that if they carry on and ignore the symptoms, things will miraculously resolve. If you broke your leg, you would not expect to be running a race after three weeks. The same logic applies to stress and depression. Make sure you take the time you need to get better.

  • Tell someone – a colleague, your Head of Department, a member of the management team. Do not feel like you have to suffer alone, or that you have failed in some way. Admitting you need some help is the first step to getting better.
  • Get professional medical advice and support. Many GPs are very used to teachers complaining of stress and will happily sign you off work for a couple of weeks. If that is what is recommended, take it. It is better to take a couple of weeks off than burn yourself into the ground and end up taking many months off.
  • Change your thinking – look at things in a positive way and learn from the experience. You might not even have realized you were doing so much until you stop.
  • Remember that you will beat it. Discovering that you have a break­ing point simply means you are a human being – and every human being has different strengths and weaknesses. You do not have to be Superman to excel in your job, and it is just as important to enjoy your career as it is to be successful in it.

If you do take some time off, ensure things have changed when you return. Don’t simply jump back into the same stressful routine you fol­lowed before your leave.

Depress Teacher 1 Best Way to Deal with Stress and Depression as a Teacher

Be aware: teacher stress is very common and, while it is good that the illness is recognized more by the medical profession, it has also become a bit too easy to use it as an excuse.

Faking a stress-related disorder just to get a couple of weeks off work is highly unprofessional, and is a good sign that it might be time for you to look for employment elsewhere!

Teaching is a team profession, so make sure you are getting help and support from your department. Delegate and share tasks as much as you can, and don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself.

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