I'm About to Pull My Hair Out!

Learn some techniques proven to reduce stress and prevent teachers from destroying their hairstyles.

By Mollie Moore

Stressed teacher

“I’m about to pull my hair out.” How many times have you had this, or similar thoughts? As teachers, our jobs are extremely stressful. Our workload never gets lighter, and the expectations only grow. Stressed out is a frequent feeling for many educators. How can we teachers reduce our stress level? Here are a few ideas. Please share any additional ideas you have with the Lesson Planet Community.

In-School Stress Relievers

  • To-do list: Make and maintain your to-do list. It will help you to remember what you need to do, and to prioritize the order in which it gets done. Additionally, it will reduce your concern that you are forgetting to do something.
  • Go in early: Many teachers get to school either five minutes early or right on time. With an early arrival, there are less people in the building. You will find that you get more done in the thirty minutes before school than you do in a longer time period after school.
  • Delegate to your students: Look over what is on your to-do list. Is there anything that your students can do? Do you pick up the large things off the floor at the end of the day or straighten up the desks? Have your students do that before they leave. Do you collect supplies or papers at the end of the day? Designate a few students each week to do these tasks. What other things can you think of that take your time that a student could do?
  • Build relationships with your colleagues: We each need a listening ear from time to time—someone who can understand our struggles. Find a coworker who can support you through the good times and the hard times. We become like the people with whom we spend the most time, so choose those supporters carefully. It is essential that you build relationships with people who will encourage you and empathize with you. Pessimism will not reduce your stress.
  • Know your limits: Learners have a variety of needs, and our schools have an increasing amount of expectations placed on them. You, however, cannot meet all of these expectations. Learn to say “No,” as needed, to things that are negotiable, like clubs and committees, especially during your first few years of teaching or when you have quite a bit going on outside of school.

Outside-of-School Stress Relievers

  • Prioritize: Most teachers are wired to help others, to push themselves, and to put their own needs aside. These personality traits are largely part of why we chose this profession. However, no matter how creative we are, we cannot create time. This means that we need to prioritize our lives so that our “Yeses” reflect what is important to us, and so that we do not end up saying “No” to things we will regret later, or that we really want to do.
  • Mind your physical health: Eating healthy and exercising requires forethought and time. The investment is worth it because these activities will reduce your stress and make you feel better. Somehow, after exercise, your outlook on life gets more positive. When you eat right, you just feel better. Start by committing to something small for three weeks and plan ahead as to how you are going to implement the change. It could be giving up soda, bringing vegetables in your lunch, or going for a fifteen-minute walk; choose what works for you. After those three weeks, reflect on how much better you feel, and then create a new challenge for yourself.
  • Create a “no-school” time: If you are like many teachers who take work home with them, create a designated time when you don't do school work or think about school (if you can help it). Once you have chosen this time, guard it. It can be the two hours before bed on weeknights, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., or weekends. Choose a time that works for you, and then stick to it! Creating this time will help you keep things at school in perspective. 

Try a few of these tips, and let the Lesson Planet Community know how they worked.