Professional Educators

Kill Stress Before It Kills You

By Nora Howley and Jerry Newberry, NEA Health Information Network

There’s no getting around it, stress is everywhere. And if you are an educator working in a priority school (or anywhere, actually) you can’t avoid feeling stressed. It may feel like everyone is against you or that no one really knows what it is like to have your job.  There may be too few hours in the day and you may feel like you are shortchanging your family, your students, and yourself.  You may find yourself getting sick for “no reason.”  What can you do?

First recognize that the way you are feeling is normal.  What we call “stress” is our body responding to threats.  And you may feel threatened.  Our problem is that our bodies respond the same way they did thousands of years ago, when the challenge was more likely to be physical (a saber tooth tiger maybe?).  When threatened the body goes into the “fight or flight” response and your body’s hormones cause:

  • Increased energy production, heartbeat and respiration, and blood pressure so you can fight or run away more easily.
  • Decreased intestinal movement and faster blood clotting so you don’t leave a trail as you are running.

Well, when you are running away from the tiger, the hormones dissipate because of the physical response.  But in the modern world, where the threats are more likely to be situational or other people, the hormones cause the same physical effects, but they don’t dissipate as quickly. This is why stress can contribute to hypertension and heart disease.

To combat these feelings and the physical response you need to tackle the problem from several directions.  First, find things to help manage how you feel. This can include exercise, relaxation, talking to a friend, taking time for yourself, or trying a new time management strategy.

Second, try to change the things that you can change either as part of a group or as an individual.  Working with your union, community group, or faith community can be an effective way to address the things that cause stress and help you feel better.   As educators we know a lot about how schools should work, try to put those things into practice.

It is also important to recognize that many common coping strategies, such as overeating, smoking, and alcohol or other substance use can cause serious health problems as well as exacerbating the problems of stress. Making some simple changes in diet, exercise, and sleep can help reduce that feeling of being overwhelmed, a lot of people also use CBD oil as a natural treatment to help cope with stress and anxiety. The benefits of cannabis continue to make controversial headlines in the arena of wellness and medicine. But with more doctors, scientists and consumers experiencing the many surprising benefits of CBD, oil specifically, it is likely a matter of time before it becomes a federally regulated component of your wellness selections, If you’re interested in trying CBD visit D Magazine. Here is a list of cbd oils that may be of your interest. Third, get the word out and celebrate classroom superheroes. We need to let the world know about the great educators out there and the difference you make.

If you find yourself with unhealthy coping strategies, don’t be afraid to seek help.

For more information on managing stress, visit the National Education Association Health Information Network website.

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