Secondary Post-Traumatic Stress For Teacher

There are more and more student’s coming into school that are dealing with Trauma either currently in their life or trauma that has happened in the past.  Many times these students require extra support from their teachers.  They require their teachers to be a consistent adult in their life and sometimes their teachers are taking many other roles such as counselor, caregiver, and cheerleader.

While this is something that teachers know they are going to do when they enter the classroom, many times teachers do not recognize the stress that it is putting on them and therefore do not address this issue.

Teachers are going to continue to have to deal with trauma in their classroom, this is a fact that is not going to change.  What teachers can change is how they can help themselves deal with the stress that comes with that.

Self-Care.  This is key for success as a teacher as without self-care many teachers will burn out and leave the profession.  So why is it so easy for teachers to care for all of their students, their family, and their friends however they have a hard time caring for themselves?

By nature teachers are giving individuals, you never hear someone say they are going into teaching for glory, fame or money.  You will hear teachers say they want to help children or make a difference in the world or one child’s life.   Many times teachers feel taking that time out for themselves is selfish and that there are better ways to spend their time.

Well, teachers, I am here to tell you to STOP!  You cannot take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself!  It is time for teachers to leave their work at work even if it just for one night.  It is time to say it is okay if you do not have the perfect font for that visual if it means you get 5 extra minutes to relax.  It is also OKAY to NOT be OKAY!  Take a personal day already!

I know…..I just told you to take a personal day. Yes, I am aware that there is a sub shortage.  Yes, that does mean to write sub-plans and yes, you may be going back to your classroom and being a day behind on the curriculum.  However, if you are drained and have no patience for your students and find yourself getting frustrated just by hearing the bell it is time to take a step back and take care of yourself.  If you are calm, cool, collected and relaxed those emotions will rub off on your students (just as easy as the annoyed feeling will too).

So your not going to take a personal day?  So you have three small kids at home or a sick spouse and you just do not have time?  This list of ideas below are a few things to help ground yourself and relax in 10 minutes or less:

  1. Breath.  Take two to five minutes every day just to breath and focus on nothing but your breath.  (if you find your mind wandering try saying to yourself “I know I am breathing in, I know I am breathing out”)
  2. Take a walk and look at nature you can even take your kids, dog, or needy spouse with you!  But seriously focus on nature and not what you have to do when you get home.
  3. Stretch.  Take a quick stretch break when your class is at specials.
  4. Eat a piece of chocolate or take a deep sip of your coffee.  Having a moment of stillness where you focus on the taste of what you are drinking can help relax your brain and bring you back to the present moment.
  5. Close your eyes and count backward from ten.
  6. Take off your shoes and roll your feet over a golf/tennis/lacrosse/yoga ball or even a cylinder can.

Want some more ways to relax?  Check out this list.

Want to read more about Post-Secondary Stress?  Here is a great article.