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Don’t Let Stress Get the Best of You

by Joe A. Martin, Jr., Ed.D.

A teacher writes:

What do you do when stress is winning?

Prof. Joe says:

First of all, I'm sure many teachers can relate to your issue with stress. And like many teachers, most have a losing record when it comes to fighting stress. Even from personal experience, I wish I could say I'm undefeated. But not only have I lost a few rounds, I've been knocked down by "Stress" more times than I care to remember.

But it's like that old saying in boxing goes, "In order to win, you don't have to avoid being knocked down; you just have to get up one more time than you've been knocked down." So to answer your question - what do you do when stress is winning? Just don't surrender. Don't quit; don't give up - get up (just one more time).




That phrase should ring in your ears - "don't give up, get up... just one more time." Yes, I know this probably sounds like some motivational mumbo jumbo, but sometimes the answer to some of life's toughest questions don't always have to be complicated (we just make them so). They (answers) just have to be applied.

Like you, and many others, stress stalks me like it's a rejected lover who won't accept the fact "it's over!" However, I'm convinced that although stress isn't as powerful as we may think, it definitely is a persistent little devil.

Here's one way I've managed to "keep getting up" (one more time) whenever stress is beating me down. I call it the "medicine cabinet." I believe I wrote about it in my book "Good Teachers Never Quit." But it goes something like this...

I keep a file drawer full of every positive letter, email, card, note, or message any student, parent, or other teacher has ever given me. Whenever stress decides it's going to put on the heavy gloves today to take a swing at me, I stiffen my chin and take the punch (because I'm a man with an ego - I'm sorry). Then after I fall, I calmly reach into my file drawer (i.e., medicine cabinet) and pull out a letter and read it to myself.

After reading how one of your former students lost all hope and thought about taking their own life, until you gave them hope and encouragement to make it through another day, week, month, or year, trust me, you'll see stress run for the hills as if the IRS just called it for an audit.

See, those letters help me get up, just ONE MORE TIME. And I'm sure they could do the same for you. Don't give up, get up... just one more time.

And guess what I found out? Although stress is very persistent, it's smart enough to know NOT to get in a fight too long if it knows it can't win. What I'm saying is after I started the medicine cabinet idea, I noticed that I've been having fewer and fewer altercations with stress. Coincidence? I don't think so.

So again, I say to you, when it comes to beating stress, don't give up, just get up... one more time. Take care and stay strong. You're in my prayers.

Teaching Purposefully -- Joe Martin



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