Thursday, February 19, 2015

Not Just for Teachers: Stress

Some of my coworkers and I are reading the book Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson. It's written for teachers, but it could apply to every profession! The first chapter is about dealing with stress. We all have it in our lives. We all have to figure out how to deal with it. Here's what really stood out: 

"Stress starts in our minds, often without us even realizing it. We think stressed out thoughts and then we feel stressed out emotions, and out bodies bear the results. Our thoughts (opinions and ideas) about an event determine whether we react calmly or feel anxious and upset. If we view the things that are happening around us in a negative way, a stress reaction will automatically be triggered."

"One teacher might think, this situation is intolerable! It should not be happening! I can't handle this and shouldn't have to deal with it! These thoughts trigger feelings of extreme anger and anxiety, which when left unchecked, can lead to physical symptoms of stress.
Another teacher might think, This is unfortunate, but it's not going to ruin my day. I own't take this situation personally and will just handle it the best I can. These thoughts lead to a calmer emotional state and do not trigger a strong stress reaction in the body."

"Choosing to define stress as something that happens to you steals your power to handle it effectively. When you perceive a cause-effect relationship between life events and your emotional response (e.g. students talk back, therefore I get upset), you begin to believe you cannot do anything about the situation. After all, if you feel stress because of an outside event, then the outside event must change for you to feel better. If you can't change the outside event (like a child's behavior or a school policy), you feel hopeless, frustrated, and overwhelmed."

"The only factor that you have complete control over is your mindset: the way YOU think and perceive things, and that way YOU choose to respond. If you want to create meaningful and lasting change in your job satisfaction, the best place to start is with your one thoughts patterns and attitude." 

"Your mindset is ultimately the reason why you love teaching or despise it." (On my Kindle app it shows the most popular highlights, and this is one of them.)

"I didn't yet realize that my internal state could be completely independent of my external environment."

"Resolve that you're going to stop getting angry about trivial matters, you're going to let go of things you can't control, and you're going to embrace whatever the future holds without worry."

She doesn't quote any scripture, but I think that Matthew 11 really hits home:
If you want to hang this in your home or office, you can find a printable version here.

There are totally things that come into our lives that we cannot control. Instead of stressing, the Lord gives us the option of giving Him our stress and taking on his lead, which is gentle and easy.

When have you been stressed and you gave the burden to the Lord and He totally came through?

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