What Makes Teaching So Stressful?

CareerCast recently shared a list of the most stressful jobs in America. Military personnel were listed at the top, followed by firefighters, airline pilots, and policemen. No surprise, these are all very high pressure career choices.

The effects of stress within any career shouldn’t be downplayed or ignored, however.

According to WebMD:

  • 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • 75-90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

We all have stress; it’s an inescapable issue that costs the American work industry $300 billion dollars per year. But how we adapt to this stress determines how much or how little it impacts our health and wellbeing.

Teaching: A common job with an uncommon level of stress…

Conspicuously absent from the list mentioned above is a common job with an uncommon level of stress – teaching. While they’re not really ever in harm’s way, I believe that teachers have a unique set of demands that inevitably impacts their nerve system in beyond average ways.

The data I’m using to form this opinion stems from an assessment of my practice population. It was determined that 77.8% of established patients held their spinal corrections for an average of 2-6 months.

What I found interesting about this statistic was that many teachers seemed to buck the trend. More specifically, elementary and high school teachers. The holding time for this group was on the lower end of that scale, at 1-3 months.

Further evidence, albeit anecdotal, revealed that teachers needed to be adjusted less often during summer vacation. In other words, they typically were adjusted most often during the 9-month school year, and seldom needed adjustments during the 3-month break they have each summer.

From a chiropractic perspective, it’s clear to me that there’s something exceedingly stressful about the vocation of teaching.

What makes the job so stressful? Consider the demands…

First, they have to build a connection with a new group of students every year/semester. This is not an easy skill, individually or collectively. It takes tremendous emotional effort to bond and establish trust with one student, let alone dozens.

Then there’s the constant need to convey enthusiasm for subject material that they’ve gone over hundreds of times. Personally, I lose excitement about my favorite movies after seeing them twice.

TeaachersHow about having to juggle so many different types of learning needs? One section of the class is exceptional, needing unique subject material to keep them mentally stimulated and growing. Another section struggles to grasp basic concepts. Then there’s the group in the middle who could go either way, and need constant encouragement for participation, and chronic reminders that good school work matters. Oh, and then there are the troublemakers who seem to enjoy ruining the whole learning experience for others.

Outside of that, there’s an obligation to handle all of these kids’ parents – an equally diverse melting pot of personalities and world views. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to communicate with some of those people on a regular basis? Ugh.

What it all boils down to…

From my perspective as a chiropractor, teachers give so much of themselves to the job — emotionally, physically, and mentally — that it taxes their nerve system in a way that forces them to process a relentless barrage of stressors day after day, week after week, for 9-months at a time.

So if you’re a teacher, know that there are advantages to chiropractic care that can help you adapt to the unrelenting stress you’re exposed to, and that having a chiropractor as part of your healthcare team can be incredibly beneficial.

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