22nd August 2003 at 01:00
Roxanne Clark believes sharing your problem can help solve it

Being stressed, and feeling overwhelmed by pressure, can be a demoralising, isolating experience. It can be a relief just to tell someone you are stressed, and discover you are not alone with your problem.

In school, teachers' needs often come last, and, having looked after the needs and demands of others all day, you can feel too exhausted to focus on yourself.

You may feel fatigued or irritable at the end of the day, and rather than talk to someone about it, you shut others out and lapse into old coping habits. The pressure builds.

It isn't always easy telling someone that you're feeling overwhelmed and tense, but it's important to look for support. You will feel better, and be more able to manage when you are suffering from stress.

The old adage, "a problem shared is a problem halved", still holds true.

The important step is to develop a rapport with someone you trust, and who understands the work you do, such as a colleague or a good friend, and who also wants to talk about his or her own stress.

Create time in your schedule to meet each other regularly - say once a fortnight or monthly - and try out the following techniques:

* Meet in a relaxing environment.

* Take time to consider what exactly you want to talk about.

* Set a time limit for your conversation; it's amazing, once you get started, how hard it can be to stop talking about a problem, but it won't help to go on and on.

* Ask your colleague or friend to just listen

* Allow yourself to express how you feel (this may take practice, so don't give up).

* Let your colleague or friend give you encouragement and supportive feedback.

* Make plans to put any fresh perspective gained into practice.

This arrangement may seem contrived at first, but with practice it will become more natural, and a part of your everyday life to talk about how you feel.

Roxanne Clark teaches Pilates, yoga and holistic stress management in business, adult education and schools. Contact:

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