1 in 83 teachers (3,750) are on long-term leave for stress and mental health issues in the UK (Lib Dem Research, January 2018). So here are 7 Simple Ways to help you reduce your stress levels…
1) Provide Coaching for ALL
Ensure everyone in your school can access high quality coaching. Encourage colleagues and pupils to have ‘thinking time’ at least once a week. Research shows every minute spent thinking/planning saves around ten minutes in ‘doing’ or taking action. Therefore, a 15 minute coaching session (using my 12-step model) will increase your productivity and save you up to 2½ hours (150 minutes) in wasted time, energy and effort.
2) Break tasks down
If you feel like you’re ‘drowning’ or have a task that feels daunting, overwhelming or ‘impossible’, stop procrastinating as this creates stress! Take a ‘coach approach’ instead – break it down into bite-size chunks. You’ll soon feel back ‘in control’ and you’ll achieve things you previously thought were ‘impossible’.
3) Avoid ‘energy vampire’ people & coaching models
You’ve probably noticed how draining and exhausting it feels when you’re around colleagues who are negative and problem-focused. It’s like they’re sucking the energy out of you. Unfortunately, many coaching models facilitate these ‘energy vampires’ too by encouraging you to delve into the problem, which increases stress. Avoid this by spending time with positive, solution-focused people and using the 12-step model.
4) Stop being a ‘fixer’!
If you keep solving things for other people it puts you under enormous pressure to always have the answers. You also risk getting the blame if your solution doesn’t work for them! Fixing creates resistance and often leads to stress and frustration (for both you and them!) By asking people to think of solutions rather than telling them your solution you’ll develop better relationships and take the pressure off yourself. For example, instead of saying things like “Tuck your shirt in”, try “How could you look even smarter?”
5) Tell people what to DO – (not what to DON’T!)
Changing your everyday language from ‘negative’ to ‘positive’ will instantly reduce your stress levels and make your colleagues and pupils feel better.
Most staff focus on the negative/unwanted behaviour by saying things like “Don’t run!” Try telling people what you want instead (eg “Walk!”) and notice the huge difference this makes!
6) Reflect to make others feel heard!
Stress is often a result of your colleagues or pupils not feeling heard or understood. When you develop your advanced listening skills you’ll be able to listen beneath the surface for 6 critical things. The first of these is ‘feelings and emotions’. Rather than saying “Don’t be so silly…you’ll be fine!” etc, show them you understand how they’re feeling by reflecting their emotions back to them. Say something like “You seem a bit stressed – is that right?” Then follow it up with a solution-focused question such as “What could you do to feel less stressed?”
7) Ask Powerful Questions
Use the 5 ingredients of powerful questions to focus colleagues and pupils on solutions that will help them to move forward. (You’ll find these in Chapter 4 on ‘A Coaching Revolution’). This will instantly save you a huge amount of time, reduce conflict, and dramatically cut their stress levels – and yours!