Health & SafetyOp-edTeachers' Desk

Stress Busting Tips for Surviving the Silly Season

We’ve almost made it to the end of another busy school year and the holidays are in sight.

On top of an action-packed school and social calendar, colleagues, parents, and students are exhausted and irritable, turning what is supposed to be a special time of year into a stress fest.

The advice below will help you and your team protect your wellbeing and finish the year with the energy to celebrate and enjoy the holidays ahead.

  1. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

You’ve spent a year of planning and planning fatigue is setting in, it can be tempting to sit back and try to coast to the end of the year. However, it’s more important than ever to set aside time to plan your school and social calendar so you can finish the year stress free.

First make sure you have spoken to your team and are clear of the end of year expectations for everyone so everyone can plan their work time accordingly.  Many schools feel the pressure to turn on multiple celebrations adding to everyone’s stress buckets. Try to manage expectations and not over commit to extra work if you don’t have capacity.

There is nothing worse than finishing the year feeling like you have outstanding work to do over the holidays or have let your team down. It’s also important to overcommunicate so if you think you will miss a deadline either share the workload or defer additional work to 2023.

  1. Protect YOUR Priorities

At this time of year, you can quickly find yourself with an overwhelmingly packed school and social calendar.  

It’s important to prioritise the social events that are important to you and where appropriate decline the extra events that are going to drain you.

Get comfortable with saying no and realising your colleagues and friends will understand if you can’t make it to everything this time of year. If you can, suggest a catch up over the school holidays or early next year with the hosts of any events you can’t make.

  1. Festive Fuel

Festive celebrations typically include two major energy drainers, refined sugar and alcohol. While it wouldn’t be Christmas if you didn’t indulge a little make sure this doesn’t become a daily blow out.

Additional sugar and alcohol can disrupt the hormones that control your metabolism, energy, sleep and mental health, quickly compounding your fatigue and high stress levels.

Make sure you continue to fuel yourself with a variety of whole foods and have regular meals and snacks so you aren’t constantly tempted by the mountain of festive treats that arrive from parents and students.

Encourage your parents to bring healthy treats or non food based, sustainable gifts such as vouchers, or home made Christmas decorations to help everyone’s wellbeing.

  1. Maintain Self-Care

Try to maintain all those habits you know you need to maintain your wellbeing such as at least thirty minutes of daily physical activity, yoga or meditation, and 7-9 hours of quality SLEEP.

While each of us will have our own activities that work to ease our stress levels, at this time of year you need to prioritise these activities more than ever.

With so much on your mind this time of year, it’s important to have a wind down routine before bed to help you relax and get to sleep. Switching off from emails and screens at least an hour before bed is a non negotiable.

Writing in a gratitude journal or noting down everything on your mind before bed can help to boost your serotonin levels and help you sleep.

Remember this time of year can be difficult for many people and can result in emotional outbursts or unusual behaviour. Try to be mindful of this when dealing with rants from parents and students and be extra vigilant of supporting those that need it.

Role modelling these healthy behaviours and boundaries can encourage everyone to put their own oxygen mask first so they can continue to show empathy and gratitude to others, celebrate, and cherish the season.

Jenny Stewart

Jenny Stewart from Workplace Wellbeing is a Registered Nutritionist who graduated Otago University with a Post Graduate Certificate in Public Health, a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology and Human Nutrition and a Bachelor of Physical Education. Jenny has a strong background in research and content development with over ten years working in Public Health and four years in Corporate Health and Wellbeing.
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