Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Indirect active strategies for Special Ed Teachers

When teachers use indirect active coping strategies, they attempt to reduce their stress by releasing it or engaging in activities known to reduce stress. They do not, however, attempt to change the source of the stress. The following are a list of indirect active strategies that have been cited in the literature as effective (Greer & Greer, 1992; Pines & Aronson, 1988).

First, you can talk about the source of your stress. As mentioned earlier, seeking the support of others to discuss your stress may be helpful. Talking stressful situations over with a trusted colleague or friend may help you to resolve problems you are encountering. Often, people find that after discussing issues that are disturbing them they are less stressed, particularly when they can generate solutions for the stressful situation. Carefully select the person with whom you want to share your troubles. A person who can keep confidences and help you see the situation more objectively is often the best source of support.

Second, you can change the way you perceive the source of your stress. When people change the way they view the stress, they are taking steps toward reducing their stress. As mentioned earlier, developing more realistic expectations about your students goes a long way toward relieving guilt, worry, and subsequent stress. Also, examine the personality and strengths of other professionals in your environment. Determining what you can realistically expect from these professionals will assist you in identifying those persons from whom you can solicit support.

Third, you can get involved in other activities that take your mind off school issues. Finding hobbies, exercising, and seeking social outlets outside of school will help you to mentally distance yourself from work. Exercising is documented to be particularly effective in reducing stress (Long, 1988) and the physical symptoms associated with stress. Also, having time for yourself, whether you are exercising or engaging in another enjoyable activity, is paramount to gathering your thoughts and rejuvenating yourself.

Finally, you can change your diet to reduce stress. Certain foods, such as coffee, chocolate, and soft drinks, are loaded with caffeine, a stimulant known to increase anxiety. If you are experiencing extreme stress, try cutting caffeine products out of your diet. Also, teachers' diets often overemphasize refined carbohydrates and fatty foods with an inadequate emphasis on fiber (Bradfield & Fones, 1984). Decreasing your fat, sugar, and caffeine intake while increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables may help you feel better physically and mentally.

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