This week’s Leadership column is courtesy of Deborah Paris……

What is Stress?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good (eustress) and bad (distress). When you feel stressed by something going on around you, your body reacts by releasing chemicals into your blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if your stress is caused by physical danger. This can also be a bad thing, if your stress is caused by something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.

Nurses and teachers are in the 3rd and 4th most stressful occupations. (Firefighter is 1st and military soldier is 2nd). Some of the common causes of stress are ‘survival stress’ (when you are afraid of being hurt by someone or something), ‘internal stress’ when we worry about things we can do nothing about’, ‘environmental stress ‘things around you that cause stress such as noise, crowding, and environmental stresses.

Fatigue and Overwork is the 4th kind of stress that builds up over a long time and can take a hard toll on your body. It can be caused by working too hard at your job(s), school, or home. It can also be caused by not knowing how to manage your time well or how to take time out for rest and relaxation. This can be one of the hardest kinds of stress to avoid because many people feel this is out of their control. In schools today it is very easy to become susceptible to this kind of stress , classrooms are overcrowded, curriculums are changings, benchmarks must be met, testing scores need to remain high, graduation numbers need to maximized, and we as educators are responsible to make sure our students succeed and become productive members of society.

We are given a task that many other individuals in business would not accept, a task of impossible proportions, yet we willingly accept the task and work hard, often tirelessly to accomplish what is needed with insufficient supplies, time and support, while at the same time managing to smile and make it look easy and often fun. We work to alleviate the stress of our students so that they can perform at their optimum. We take care of others, often neglecting ourselves in the process.

It is important to AVOID the burnout – and seek wellness. That means develop a wellness plan to help distress your life. First remember you have ONE life – and you are responsible for your wellness.

No one can take your wellness away from you unless you allow it. Make time for your wellness plan. Make no excuses. Some strategies you can use for you wellness plan are: Start the day right – think positive thoughts, exercise: walk at lunch, ride your bike to work, pack healthy snacks that include Omega rich foods –such as dried fruit, nuts, veggies, raisins and fruits. Talk to people if you need some extra help, take advantage of the resources available, don’t let things bottle up until they blow-up. If you need a mental health day – take it. Support each other. Show appreciation for each other and the great staff we have, and even for the great kids we have remember many of them come to school with a great deal of stress. Students need to acquire the tools to handle their stress also and we need to teach them how to do that. Remember be GOOD to YOURSELF. LIVE YOUR LIVE! LOVE YOUR LIFE!

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