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Reducing Stress in 2021: 10 Tips for Instructors

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

Reducing Stress in 2021 - 10 Tips for Instructors teaching in a virtual world

We are extremely grateful for all of the teachers who are on the front lines risking their own health to educate our youth. We admire your strength and adaptability that has been evident over the past year. In an effort to help you, we have put together some tips and resources specifically for those dealing with the anxiety and stress of teaching during this difficult time. Trying to incorporate all of these into your routine may be overwhelming in itself, so we suggest that you pick a few that resonate with you and then gradually add more as desired. This list is not intended to replace speaking to a professional if you think you have a mental health condition or need medical help.

  1. Find a friend, family member, or colleague you trust to be a confidant through these difficult times. Setting a short meeting each week where you check in with each other to see how you are doing on a more personal level can help ease the burden of everything you are carrying with you. Both parties benefit from knowing someone else understands what they are going through and is there for them. This weekly meeting can also be used as a place to hold each other accountable for self-care goals you set for yourself.

  2. Work together. In a study published in the journal Social Psychology of Education, researchers Wolgast and Fischer found that “reduced perceived stress was indirectly associated with frequent cooperation in reaching the common goal of planning lessons via colleague support among teachers.” This K-12 based study indicates that when teachers collaborate more, stress is reduced for all. This concept can be applied directly to professors teaching similar courses by having a community that meets to work on lesson plans together. It can be applied indirectly by simply meeting with other faculty members to brainstorm a plan for adapting to the ever changing conditions of teaching. Having a sense of community can greatly help ease your individual burden, even if that community is virtual.

  3. Build a plan for consistency throughout the semester. While a plan for this semester may seem pointless, having some type of plan is needed for the sanity of both you and your students. Creating as many elements that can stay consistent no matter if you are teaching on campus, online, or somewhere in between can help ease everybody’s stress. A good start can be to establish that any quizzes, tests, and assignments will be handed in virtually on a central LMS system. Our platform Yellowdig, can also assist you with building stability into your class. Creating a Community on Yellowdig from the start of the semester can ensure consistency in student connectedness and engagement with class content.

  4. Smile! This one might sound a bit crazy and make you feel a bit silly, but simply forcing yourself to smile for 1 minute straight each day can improve your outlook. An article discussing a study on smiling explains, "In our research, we found that when you forcefully practice smiling, it stimulates the amygdala, which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state." It continued on to say that participants viewed their environment in a more positive way after the exercise. You can do this by holding a pencil in your mouth to stimulate the same muscles as smiling. It only takes a minute, so why not?

  5. Practice mindfulness. A Harvard News article quotes Suzanne Westbrook, a former, internal-medicine doctor for Harvard students, saying, “Mindfulness teaches you the skill of paying attention to the present by noticing when your mind wanders off. Come back to your breath. It’s a place where we can rest and settle our minds.” Now more than ever, it is easy to allow your mind to wander off to the tragic news of today, but mindfulness is a practice that teaches you to stay present. One resource for learning mindfulness that some of our Yellowdig employees have used is Headspace.

2 instructors meditating with a happy sun behind them

6. Try deep breathing. Even though breathing is something we’ve all done since we were born, it’s something we all need to be reminded of sometimes. According to a study<