Combat Stress

Summary of “Combat Stress” – article in the April/May ATL magazine, Report.


Consequences of stress

  • Headaches
  • Stomach upsets
  • Chest pain
  • Reduce in confidence
  • Impairment in decision-making
  • Significant impact on cognition


What happens to our brains when we get stressed?

  • “Every time we’re stressed, the emotional part of our brain is triggered and is on full alert. When it’s on full alert, it switches off the neocortex. This means you cannot learn, reason, understand or make decisions.”


Ways to bring down stressful feelings

  • Mindful breathing
  • Finding your own way to calm down, e.g. doing something you enjoy doing
  • Replace negative thoughts with “I can do this” or “I’ll focus on one thing at a time”
    • This is why I personally make lists – almost to the point of obsession!
    • Congratulate yourself when you tick something off
  • Get enough sleep
  • Cut down on sugar and eat as healthily as you can
    • But treat yourself to the odd chocolate/wine/etc. every so often
  • ATL has a number of courses about mindfulness and resilience
    • These traits are as valuable for staff as they are for students


Key message: “Small changes to work patterns can really make a difference to how members feel about their working lives”.


Half Term

When people I ask why I’m a teacher I don’t usually tell them the truth – that I loved learning when I was a pupil, and that I’d like to pass that on to the students I teach. I normally joke, and say something along the lines of, “because of the long holidays”.

But I’m only half joking; I always look forward to the holidays we teachers get. We deserve them though – we work much harder than other professionals give us credit for. Cast your mind back to when you were a teenager – imagine your average temperament, and then imagine yourself in a room with 30 of your schoolmates.

Then put yourself in my shoes. I am trying to teach this group of teenagers about something incredibly boring, like how to use a quadrat without going outside, because it is raining. The boys are throwing paper balls at each other while the girls check their eyebrows in the compact they keep in their cosmetics bag-cum-pencil case.

This is an exaggeration. But imagine doing this for five hours straight every day with a few breaks. That’s what being a teacher is like, on a bad day.

The positives outweigh the negatives though, in my opinion, otherwise I wouldn’t continue in this job. The children are SO amusing to watch and listen to; and it’s great when they are genuinely interested in what you have to say.

Nevertheless, Friday can’t come quick enough. This has been a fairly short half term but now that exam season is well underway, we are all knackered in my department. I’ve got lots to look forward to, including seeing Busted live at the O2, going to Tenby for a few days, my cousin’s birthday, seeing my friend and her two-year-old daughter, and then going to the Harry Potter studio tour for my birthday at the end of the week.

Whatever you guys get up to, have a good one 🙂 x