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How Teachers Can Cope with Back-to-School Anxiety

Janelle Cox

If you’re struggling with anxiety, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, an estimated 40 million adults suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder. Teaching is a stressful profession, especially during back-to-school time, when you have more on your plate and your days extend past 3 p.m. Other challenges, such as being assessed by your administrator, dealing with unruly children, helicopter parents, and everyday life, can also make back to school time stressful. If you are a teacher who knows that anxiety may get the best of you during the first few weeks of school, then you need to follow these tips from teachers who have been there.

Back-to-School Tips for Anxiety

Research shows that anxiety in women is more prevalent than in men, and with the teaching profession mostly made up of women, there is a greater risk that anxiety can affect teachers. If you or a colleague you know suffers from anxiety, don’t let it steal your desire to teach. Read and share the following tips from veteran teachers to help you beat those back-to-school blues.

Get Daily Exercise

If you are not an active person and you have anxiety, then you may want to rethink your daily schedule and try and incorporate some exercise into it. Numerous studies have shown that physically active people have a lower risk of developing anxiety and depression than people who are not active. In fact, people who work out as little as once a week tend to be happier than people who don’t work out at all. When you exercise, it boosts your serotonin, which is a feel-good chemical inside your brain that helps to ease anxiety and stress.

Do Something You Love

Take the time to invest in yourself and do something that you love to do. Back-to-school time can be very chaotic, and with so many tasks on your to-do list, it’s easy to forget about yourself. Instead of spending all of your free time on completing your tasks, take time for yourself. If you love to go to a workout class, then be sure to schedule it on your calendar. When you make it a point to physically schedule in time for yourself, you’re more apt to go and do it.

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Get Social

Do not isolate yourself. The last thing you want to do when you have anxiety is to keep to yourself. While it’s perfectly natural to want to be alone when you’re not feeling yourself, it also will not do you any good. Get out and get social, even if you aren’t in the mood. If you’re the type of teacher that likes to eat in your classroom, don’t, instead go to the teachers’ lounge and get to know your colleagues. Make an effort to meet your friends and vent about what’s bothering you, or Facetime a friend and discuss your feelings. Sometimes all you need is a friend’s shoulder to lean on when you’re going through a tough time.

Establish a Routine

Teachers who have lived with anxiety say that it’s best to establish a routine if you want to beat anxiety or those back-to-school blues. Routines help with anxiety, because when you stick to a regular schedule, you won’t feel overworked or overwhelmed. Set a schedule that works for you and that you know that you can stick to. For example, if you know that going to bed late means feeling groggy and having headaches the next day, then create a routine where you go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Or, if you know that staying late at work means not spending time with your family, then create a routine where you only stay late once a week. Establishing a routine helps you be prepared both mentally and physically for the day. When you know what to expect, then you’ll feel less stressed, which means having less anxiety.

Prioritize Your Health

Like it or not, your health plays a pivotal role in the way that you feel. When you don’t take the time to take care of yourself both mentally and physically, then there’s a good chance that you can get anxiety or depression. Take time to make your health a priority. If you feel overworked, then take a mental health day to get yourself back on track. Listen to your mind and body. If it’s saying I’m tired and stressed and need a break, then take it.

Back-to-school anxiety is not something to just blow off and tell yourself that it will go away once you settle into the school year. In fact, some teachers say that if you don’t take steps right away to feel better, then your anxiety will just worsen. When you hear that internal voice screaming that you don’t feel yourself, then listen to it and take the steps mentioned above to do something about it -- you will be happy you did.

Do you or have you ever had teacher anxiety?

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, Graduateprogram.org,and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.