How to Deal with Teacher Overwhelm

Updated: Apr 26



Feeling overwhelmed as a teacher is NORMAL! We wanted to start out by making sure you know that you are not the only one who feels completely engulfed in school life. But just because everyone is feeling it, it doesn’t mean it is okay to continue working in an anxious state of overwhelm. Like us, you’d probably agree being overwhelmed doesn’t feel great and being productive in this state is an absolute struggle.

Even with years of teaching experience under our belts, we still find ourselves overwhelmed at times. The quicker you can nip that teacher overwhelm in the bud, the better you will feel and the more effective you will be in the classroom. To help you (and remind ourselves) we have put together 8 ways we have found help when teacher overwhelm sets in:

1. Share your feelings

They say a problem shared is a problem halved! And there are no better people to share your teacher woes with than other teachers. Friends at work can support you and help you when you need it. Not only will they be committed to helping resolve whatever is bringing you down, but they can also relate to how you are feeling too.


2. Take time out for yourself

Self-care is vital as a teacher and no one is going to force you to put yourself first besides YOU! Find something that re-energises you and timetable some self-care into your weekly routine. By having time set aside to reinvigorate yourself, you will probably find you are more productive and focused. (Need more information about Teacher Self-care? Check out this post)



Try a FREE Taster of our Self-Care Journal. Click the above image to get your free copy!

3. Wish Listing and Chunking

As a teacher, the “To Dos” are never ending! Instead of looking at each item you have down as a ‘must do’, start looking at your to-do list as a wish list instead. Looking at it through a different lens can be helpful but it also takes away from the urgency to complete each task. Whatever you get done (aside from teaching your students) is awesome! If you have larger items on your list break them down into small achievable chunks to gain a sense of progress and completion.


4. S is for sleep

Good sleep can help improve concentration and productivity. Let’s face it, when you are the only adult inside four walls with lots of children in your care, a good nights sleep can really help with your happiness and patience too. Set some guidelines for your sleep during the week to make sure you get enough and log off from technology before bedtime so your brain has enough time to calm down in the evening. (If you are a mother with young children or babies right now, I am sorry, this tip isn’t for you! I am right there with you on the sleepless nights though, any consolation?!)

5. Move over Multitasking

Sometimes when overwhelm has set in, multitasking can lead us further down the path of those awful feelings. When we are feeling overwhelmed, it can become hard to focus. Stop the multitasking and just do one thing at a time. It may feel like you aren’t getting through enough but as you complete each small task from your ‘wish list’ hopefully those feelings will begin to ease. Studies have shown that switching between projects can lead to less productivity, since each time you move back and forth you lose valuable time in having to reorganise your thinking and pick up where you left off. Another good tip is to switch off those email or message notifications for a half hour or hour block, so you can do what you need to.


6. Clear the clutter

Again, a result of feeling overwhelmed can often end with messy workspaces, things not being put back where they belong or by not following your normal routines that help keep everything running smoothly. Dedicate some time to clearing the clutter. Make yourself a clean space to work and tidy up before you set out to complete necessary tasks. By tidying up your workspace, this might also help you think about what is a priority and what is not when deciding what you are going to tackle next.

7. Reflect on the positive

Redirect your attention to positive thoughts. Keeping a gratitude journal is one way to focus on the positive. It is also important that we reflect on what we have and what we are doing well as teachers. Often we are too quick to criticise ourselves and ignore our achievements. We would never treat our students that way, teachers are champions of positive reinforcement, so give yourself (and perhaps your colleagues) some positive feedback as well.


8. Tech free time

Try some self-imposed technology free time. It can be quite liberating to turn off your email alerts, delete social media apps or turn your phone off and leave it in another room. Technology has done amazing things for our lives, but it isn’t an essential ingredient when we are feeling overworked or overwhelmed. Give it a try… you never know, it may become a regular thing!

Schools are busy places and teachers feeling overwhelmed is a very real thing. Please know that this season will pass and, in the meantime, try and implement a few things to get yourself through it!


What to read next:

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority

8 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout

10 Tips for New Teachers



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