Stress at Work

You are working and playing with children. What could be more fun? You know in your heart that you are doing something rewarding and enjoyable (in what other job can you make play dough snakes and read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, over and over?). Yet you often feel depleted and unappreciated at the end of the day. If this sounds familiar, you might be suffering from occupational stress! 

Do these sources of stress resonate with you?

· Tension with parents, coworkers, and/or management
· Too much work, too little time to do it
· The noise level in the classroom gets on your nerves
· Unable to meet the individual needs of so many children
· Limited budget and resources
· Working with "stressed" children

Job related stress affects you the caregiver as well as the quality of care you provide. In order to be successful, caregivers need to look after themselves by managing their stress and finding a sense of balance in their lives.

Some strategies for managing stress include:

· Good Nutrition. Eating healthy foods helps your immune system work properly and combats the toll that stress can take on your body.

· Breathing techniques. Breathing practice helps sustain vital energy and can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  Breathe in for the count of four, hold for the count of four, and exhale for the count of four.

· Regular exercise. Regular exercise practiced at least three times per week can relax your body and mind. Try walking, swimming or Yoga. 

· Short breaks. Periodic breaks where you stretch, breathe or just get a change of scenery can revive your body and lift your spirits.

· Calm classroom environment. Provide sensory experiences to help children diffuse the stress they may be carrying from the home environment or from being separated from their parents. When the children are calm and engaged in classroom activities, you are able to better provide the nurturing attention they need and ultimately you will feel a sense of peace.

Source: This article was authored by Jody Martin, Vice President of Education and Training at Early Learning Centers of Excellence

Everyday strategies to reduce stress

· Eat a well- balanced diet; drink fluids low in sugar, calories, and caffeine; have healthy snacks; and drink water!
· Sleep well
· Exercise: any activity that you find enjoyable
· Create time each day to decompress
· Talk with friends, peers, avoid gossip and hurtful conversations
· Write in a journal
· Pair enjoyable activities or tasks with less enjoyable activities or tasks
· Reward yourself for a job well done