Common stress-related health problems in teachers today
Talk to a group of teachers, and you will probably hear that they have many of the same health complaints. The pressures of work and the lifestyle that teaching requires leaves many feeling stressed about school and home. This leads to a litany of physical ailments that many teachers share. Stress can lead to a wide variety of physical symptoms.
One of the most common complaints teachers make is that they are stressed out. Juggling administrators’ demands, paperwork, data-keeping, meetings, implementing student interventions, and not to mention actually preparing lessons and teaching, takes a toll on teachers’ bodies. Stress can cause a number of physical and emotional symptoms, included, but definitely not limited to, lethargy, depression, exhaustion, and headaches, according to EducationWorld.com. High-blood pressure is also one of the more common health conditions teachers face. Students and co-workers both suffer when teachers have short fuses and are irritable. Managing stress effectively is essential to mitigating and preventing unnecessary physiological problems.
In addition to stress, teachers also have a higher incidence of certain physical ailments. For instance, teachers often lose their voices, and this makes it difficult, or even impossible to teach. Teachers may have to miss work if they cannot speak. In addition, an article entitled “Do Teachers Have More Health Problems? Results from a French Cross-Sectional Survey” by Kovess-Masféty, et. al. (2006) indicates that male teachers are at higher risk for anxiety disorders than people in other occupations; and there is more “conjunctivitis and lower urinary tract infection in male teachers and. . .bronchitis, eczema/dermatitis and varicose veins in female teachers.”
Another form of physical stress is due to the work demand – a teacher is on her feet half the working day, and spends the rest carrying heavy bags around, hunching over desks marking assignments and planning lessons after school hours and on weekends – subjecting yourself to such a routine will definitely take a toll on your body, especially if you’re also not leading a healthy lifestyle. Bad backs, swollen ankles, neck pain and sore feet are what many teachers have taken in their stride as “job hazards”.
Taking time out of the day for personal reflection and relaxation is a good way to help relieve stress. Exercise and doing something you enjoy on a personal level can also help. Eating a balanced diet and getting enough rest will also support a healthy mind, immune system, and total body. Telling yourself you have something important to contribute to the world, saying positive things to yourself and others, developing effective communication skills, having a sense of humor, and having at least one close friend can be of significant help as well, according to Leah Davies, M.Ed. of KellyBear.com.
If you find that you are more prone to infections and laryngitis, make taking care of your physical and mental health a top priority. You can also develop classroom routines that involve speaking less such as silent signals and using group work and project-based learning. To be your best for your family, yourself, and your students, taking care of your health is vital.
What do you think are common health ailments in teachers?