Stress, Budgets and Job Cuts

Stressed? Learn From the Zebra!

Learn How You Can Cope in a World Packed with Unpredictability

In every city and state I visit lately, there’s the smell of something burning in the air. No, it’s not the usual summer brush fires. It’s the slashing and burning of city, county, state and federal budgets. It is common to hear of 5-15% of staff being given the dreaded equivalent of the “You’re fired, here’s your pink slip”. The stress levels are off the charts and there’s anger, denial and resentment. If this applies to you or your colleagues, lean in and read closely. If it does not apply to you today, it may apply in the near future.

Usually this newsletter is for teaching tips. For the next couple of months, let’s take the opportunity to look after you. There are some very brain-smart coping strategies to help you and your colleagues deal with these issues. One of them comes from a zebra.

The others are…

Understanding Stress

Most teachers define stress as, “I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I know when it happens and what it feels like.” Stress researchers define it as a mind and body reaction to adverse stimuli resulting from a perception of a loss of control (Kim and Diamond 2002). This suggests that stress embodies both the stimulus and the resulting reaction in our body.

In short, the stress in our life is not “out there.” There are no stressful jobs, no stressful people, nor any stressful situations. There is a very real response in you. But if you tell yourself a job is stressful or a person is stressful, your life will always be miserable. You have more “say-so” over your life than you think.

There are typically three ways we feel stress: the good stress (e.g. excitement, challenge, novelty), the intense stress known as acute (which is draining or even traumatic) and the ongoing and unforgiving stress known as chronic. The last two categories of stress are evil for the brain.

Why is that? Read more