Reducing stress

There has been concern recently about teachers’ stress levels. With their wider workloads, teaching assistants and other members of support staff may also be feeling the strain.

A little stress is good for us because it makes us get out of bed in the morning, reach deadlines, finish what we have started and generally work effectively. However, if it starts overwhelming us, and the pressures of work start taking control of our lives, then it will begin to affect our health and how we function at work.

How does stress affect you?

Type A people tend to be aggressive, impatient, competitive, including in their leisure activities, and more prone to heart disease. Type A people are more likely to become stressed.

Type B people tend to be fond of leisure but are not particularly hostile or competitive. They are generally much more relaxed about life and don’t get stressed very easily.

Those who cope least well with stress will begin to experience negative emotions and feel threatened both by the demands of their work and by their colleagues, whom they may see as being more effective and successful. It is important to identify those who are easily stressed (ourselves included) and to try to minimise that stress.

Symptoms of stress can include:

  • tearfulness
  • forgetfulness
  • indecision
  • fidgeting, nail biting and general difficulties in relaxing
  • sleeplessness, and waking in the night thinking about work
  • irritability and anger
  • fear of the future
  • difficulties in concentrating, completing jobs and meeting deadlines.

Schools can help tackle some of the problems of stress through good management, but there are also steps that individuals can take:

  • make a good healthy start to the day with breakfast and exercise
  • drink less coffee and less alcohol
  • be better organised and prioritise – don’t try to do too much at once
  • don’t try to remember everything – use lists and a work diary of some kind
  • don’t try to be perfect – no-one is
  • try to create a pleasant working atmosphere in all your work spaces
  • speak out calmly and tactfully if there are problems or petty annoyances – don’t bottle things up
  • take proper breaks
  • be assertive
  • accept that there will always be some problems that are difficult to solve and some colleagues who are difficult to work with.
NAPTA, 10 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP — tel 01223 224930 — email