5 Steps to worrying less

As teachers we tend to worry about everything from 'is that child going to be okay when they get home?' to 'why can't this student master this skill?'. We are born worriers. This, however, is what makes us great teachers. Worrying means you care. Care too much though and you can make yourself ill with stress. 

Signs you're worried about work:
  • being unable to sleep at night and being overtired in the morning
  • falling ill while on school holidays
  • moodiness (anger or sadness) for no apparent reason
  • fear of failure (that inner voice that says 'I can't teach')
Everybody worries and it would be foolish to tell yourself to stop but here are some tried and trusted ways you can keep control of those worrisome thoughts.

1. Is this real or imaginary worry

Get your thoughts into perspective. I once saw a chart on a classroom wall for students that was called the catastrophe scale. At the top it had death or illness, in the middle it had falling or hurting yourself and near the bottom it had somebody saying mean words. It was a great chart and if I could grab a copy someday I'd love to place it in my classroom. For now I've made a freebie of a similar activity you can do with your students to get worries into perspective. For teachers, however, it's easy to be self-critical. Stop. Ask yourself 'is this real or am I imagining this problem?'. You can't predict the future, so stop trying. 

2. Be aware of your thoughts

Don't let your thoughts slide into negativity. Try to be aware of when your heart rate is going up, your breathing is harder or your chest feels tight. If you feel like this, take action and try to address those worries. 

3. Do something about it

After assessing your worry to see if it's real or imaginary, then check your thought process, next try to share this worry with a friend. Sometimes it takes an outside party to get your thinking into perspective. Try to remind yourself of the things you do well and try to build your inner confidence.

4. Take care of yourself

Meditate, take a hot bath or a shower, read a book or play a game. Do whatever it takes to get that worry into perspective and to do this you need distance from the problem.

5. Think clearly

Try to remove emotion from the problem, when you do this you give the situation clarity. Once you have clarity, then write an action plan for yourself. How will you fix the problem or how will you deal with it if this problem arises. Having an action plan will help you get your thinking straight about how you're going to cope with the issue and takes the pressure off your immediate worry.

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