Stress-buster

29th August 2003 at 01:00
It's good to put yourself first, says Roxanne Clark

How to make an impact in your new job in September: whether you're a head or an NQT, the final part of our seven-week series will make sure you arrive ready and raring to go

What makes you feel good? If you are taking the time to relax and make the most of your break before next term begins, this question should not be too difficult.

Once term begins, however, and you get caught up in the daily pressures of teaching and meeting the demands and needs of others, the first things to go are usually the very activities which make you feel good and give you the energy to do your work.

How many times have you found yourself postponing or cancelling an event or activity because work spills into that time and takes priority?

There are times when this is unavoidable, but to allow it to become the norm not only leads to burnout eventually, but also to undermining feelings of resentment.

When you are torn by feelings of guilt and doubt about giving your own needs priority, step back from the situation and change your perspective by imagining you are offering supportive advice to a friend. Would you want your friend constantly to be putting their needs last, only to see him or her burn out? Burnout is insidious. It occurs over time, and it is only when you feel so worn down and unable to cope that you may realise how under pressure and stressed you have been feeling.

And enjoying a regular and healthy treat, such as massage, sauna, yoga, country walk, or whatever it is you look forward to, will become a touchstone, a reminder of how good it is to look after yourself, and help you create a balance in your life.

Try this simple and effective head, face and neck massage: Rub your hands together vigorously and place them over your face. Rest the heels of your hands gently over your closed eyes. Inhale, then as you exhale relax your eyes into your hands (be careful if you're wearing contact lenses). Keep your eyes closed and take your hands away.

Inhale again and as you exhale, gently tap your fingertips over the top and sides of your head, your scalp, the back of your neck and across the top of your shoulders. Take in another deep breath, sliding your hands up either arm, stretching them upwards. As you exhale, slowly lower your hands, bringing them to rest in your lap.

Roxanne Clark teaches Pilates, yoga and holistic stress management in business, adult education and schools. Contact: yogawithatwist@yahoo.co.uk

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