Learning about stress: do we need it?
Stress seems such an everyday word that we don’t even realise that actually 80% of workers feel stress at the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. That is why DOREA Educational Institute organises Erasmus+ staff mobility training course ”Handling Stress and Avoiding Burnout”. During the last session that took place in Limassol, Cyprus from 14th till 18th of November, DOREA trainer together with and 11 participants from Sweden, Netherlands, Spain and Norway discussed stress factors, signs of stress, relaxation methods and much more.
Stress and burnout is a very real problem in the education sector as well as in other public and private sectors, especially since the financial crash of 2008. The cost of stress and burnout, financially and personally, is a very real burden to organisations and has a bearing on how organisations are viewed by customers and workers. However, when asked whether a low level of stress is needed in life, the participants agreed, noting that with a low level of stress we can really concentrate on the things we have to do as well as increase efficiency. On the other hand, each individual has a different optimal level of stress. Some people can handle greater levels of stress than others, therefore it is important not to assume that everyone is the same. We need to be able to recognise stress both in ourselves and others. Physical signs, such as tension in a neck, headache, lack of sleep and emotional signs, such as shouting, arguing can help to be aware of it.
For some participants, the course made them feel less stressful, and for others it gave ideas and tools for their own work with youth with similar problems.
Avoiding stress – laughing is the best medicine!
During the training course, the trainer raised awareness of stress causes, how it impacts teaching abilities, helped the participants to enhance self-awareness and also provided them tools on how to handle stress and prevent burnouts. The trainer also pointed out that there are many ways to relax – physical activity, such as working out in the gym, walking, playing sports; creativity – playing an instrument, painting, etc. and even playing with a pet are great ways in which we can release tension and stress. When you need to reduce stress at the spot deep breathing and meditation are very helpful.
The participants agreed that living a healthier lifestyle helps them to release stress as well. While a healthier diet is not so important to most, a sports activity seem to work the trick for everyone. While most physical activities seem to be the key for relaxation to most, the trainer and the participants agreed that it is important not to forget humour in our lives. Watching funny videos on YouTube or other shared sites can be extremely important to handle stress. Watching cute, silly animals or other videos that make you smile can make you feel warmth, joy and empathy. Therefore, it is advisable to spare a moment for yourself during the day to reduce your stress level.
As Mark Twain once wrote: “Humour is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
Prepared by Simona Varankaite