Free Press Journal

Here’s how teachers are learning the art of de-stressing


It’s not just students who fret over everything academics. Divya Nambiar delves into our nation builders’, aka teachers’, world to find out how they fight anxiety “You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.”  ― J.D. Salinger

Classes, syllabus, marks, performance… If you thought only students are affected by these, think again. Be it anytime of the year, teachers are always in action. The summer vacations are a much-needed relief provided they are not correcting examination papers or preparing report cards or, in case of government teachers, not being assigned in any duty. They are running about the whole year, trying to mould students into better human beings, leaving behind little pouches of goodness for the future generations to reminisce and smile on a day when the world does not necessarily seem to be a great place.

‘Teaching is a calling too. And I’ve always thought that teachers in their way are holy –angels leading their flocks out of the darkness,’ said author Jeannette Walls. As they lead their flocks, don’t they encounter stress, like in any other profession?

Non-academic burden
Other than teaching, teachers have to constantly involve themselves in non-academic work. Maintaining simultaneously all possible records of students, daily plans, teachers’ diary diverts from actual academics and becomes an encumbrance. “In the quest for perfection, we are deteriorating. The procedures take up precious time, which could be diverted fruitfully towards students’ welfare. Nowadays, there is no sufficient time for life skills or academics. With the no-failure policy, the standard of education is going down,” says Malini Manjiramani, a primary school teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya Koliwada, Mumbai.

Load on personal life
Teachers slog over pending work during ‘free’ periods. However, often the work-to-do is more than the work that can be done in that time. This leaves them with no other option than carrying that work home, which leads them compromising on their family lives. Work-life balance, in such cases, goes for a toss.On the one hand, we have students passing out from schools and soon becoming a part of the rat race and on the other hand are these people, who have dedicated their lives to prepare the students for the tough, big world. In the process, they have stressful moments, but being teachers, they have taken it upon themselves to ‘teach’ amongst themselves ways of dealing with it.

Time to de-stress
So what do teachers have in their kitty as a de-stressing tool for their fellow teachers? Says Malini, “Act their age when with students. Go down to their level. Feel their admiration for you. Revel in that indescribable high. What is stress then? Or rather, where is the need to de-stress?” Shyam L, an assistant professor from Kerala differs in his opinion.

“Stress is a reality. In our free periods, we play music in the staff room. That’s how we de-stress.”Going a step ahead is Sujata Apte, a teacher with 30 years of experience, currently working in KV NDA Khadakvasla, Pune. She conducts workshops for fellow teachers as well as for students, housewives and career-oriented women. “It is designed to actualise the potential of teachers and to equip them to deal with challenges they face with students and themselves,” says Sujata. A certified trainer in transactional analysis, hypnotherapy, scientific meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy, she applies these in her workshops keeping in mind the limitations and challenges that come with the teaching profession. She has found unique techniques to overcome them.

“Apte’s ability to articulate, convey and explain simple truths, peppered with humour has helped my teachers. Her resolve to help fellow teachers brought her all the way to Gujarat from Pune,” says Bhupender Mishra, Principal, Oxford International School, Gondal.

Adds Karuna Torne, another teacher who attended her workshop, “Mrs Apte delivers simple principles in bite size for each one of us to experience and assimilate in their day-to-day life with ease. For young teachers like us, such workshops will go a long way in helping us deal with everyday stress, over a period of time.”

The me-time Anita Rathore, a teacher who took voluntary retirement believes that her real career began after that. With an interest in arts and crafts since a long time, she paid heed to her parents’ advice and pursued Science. Twenty seven years later, she is an independent crafter now.

She has taken the bull called stress by the horns with her creative bent of mind. She conducts workshops where she delves into the world of decorative panels using handmade flowers. She also specialises in stenciling, distress ink technique and layering.
Her Facebook page ‘Creative World onu studio’ provides a glimpse into that world. Be it envelopes or a flower bouquet, she gives them all a colourful revamp. “When one indulges in art and craft, it gives a creative outlet – the satisfaction of having created a piece of art. I help teachers and senior citizens to develop skills that would help them create something beautiful,” she says.

“Though there are a few things to crib about, I won’t trade my job for anything else in the world. The kind of unadulterated and innocent love teachers receive from students is exceptional,” says Malini, adding that a student got in touch with her after 36 years after much effort – a moment of joy and pride for her.

Quick detox
School work can wait. When you reach home, take 5 slow breaths. Let water cool you down. Sip it; a glass, no less. Devote half an hour each day to do something that you love. No questions asked. Do what you are doing with all your heart. If it seems impossible, find a way out. Make it the very next mission after reading this.