Stress resilience: How to make stress your friend

As a teacher, I always used to think that teaching was the second-most stressful occupation next to air traffic controlling, but apparently it doesn’t even appear on the list of top-10 stressful jobs in the world. (Try googling it and you will see for yourself.)

So why then does it feel so stressful to stand in front of several classes a day containing a large number of children whom you have to teach, discipline and encourage, and whose work you have to assess within tight deadlines, without permanently damaging their fragile egos? Perhaps it feels so stressful because it is so stressful!
In a TED Talk on stress resilience, Kelly McGonigal talks about the effects of stress on the body. We all know about the harmful effects of stress, but she suggests that recent research reveals that stress can be rendered harmless! If you think stress is harmful it will be harmful. If you think you are doing something worthwhile and enjoy what you are doing, it won’t harm you.
‘Yeh right!’ I hear you saying.
So what is McGonigal’s positive spin on stress? In a nutshell she says that helping others and being a caring and compassionate person reduces the harmful effects of stress. She also suggests that talking about your problems with someone who listens sympathetically reduces the harmful effects of the stress – as it means you don’t have to handle the stress on your own. Being supportive and being supported both contribute to your wellbeing – and a healthy heart!
So does having friends in the staffroom who listen to you offload your frustrations at break and after school help to make you resilient to stress? Do the rewards of working with schoolchildren offset the stress of teaching?
Watch this TED Talk and let us know what you think.

Categories: Macrat Musings

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