How To Deal With Stress In the Workplace – Strategies for Getting Your Classroom Organized

Working from home is not possible for everyone.  During these challenging times teachers  will be heading back and working for the first time ever under unprecedented times.

This type of situation would be stressful for anyone: the ability to perform your job effectively, while keeping yourself and your students safe. That’s why this month’s blog is dedicated to giving strategies to teachers and school staff.

Main Causes for Stress

Aside from the current state of affairs, some causes of work  stress are:

  • Not having much control over job expectations

  • Increased responsibility

  • Job security 

  • Interpersonal stressors like lack of support from colleagues and bosses

  • Toxic work environments that are gossipy and competitive

  • Feeling unsatisfied with your career

These stressors are amplified when we are not adapting self care into our life, managing our time and space as well as addressing the things we can change.

Importance of Classroom Organization + How It Helps Reduce Stress

Student Needs:

  1. Helps with classroom management: Students know expectations and thrive in a more structured environment

  2. Better able to meet needs of students: they are more independent and collaborative when everything is clearly laid out for them in the space and in lessons

Workflow: You are better able to:

  1. Find things and prepare for lessons

  2. Be more efficient and focused in getting things done

  3. Put energy into delivering curriculum 

  4. Have a seamless workflow and transitions throughout the school day

Classroom Setup: 

  1. It is easier for you to establish clear parameters with classroom expectations and routines

  2. Smoother day transition between lessons and routines because they are laid out in the physical spaces and visuals in the classroom.


  1. Reduces your stress and anxiety around being ready and adaptable for last minute changes

  2. Develop new habits and routines that support a balance of safety and learning

4 Ways to Deal With Stress In the Classroom and at Work

Breaking down the numerous work stressors, I find they fall into 4 major groups.  Whether it’s your classroom or your home office, addressing which stressors stand out allows you to work on one at a time and slowly reduce your stress.

1.  Physical – your body and your health

Some of the simplest things can also be the hardest things to incorporate into our life when we are under stress. People tend to go for quick fixes, which are usually unhealthy choices for us. Taking time each week to map out how you can incorporate healthy lifestyles changes can make all the difference. Picking one new habit at a time can make it less challenging and more likely that you will keep it up. For example, 

How can you incorporate healthy snacks this week into your workday? 

Some Options for Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Stress Levels:

  • Drink water and herbal teas

  • Eat whole foods and try having snacks before you find your energy levels dropping

  • Exercise and find a buddy to do it with to help with accountability 

  • Take breaks – leave the space and go for a 10 minute walk at lunch or even just take 5 deep breaths at your desk 

  • Get moving – do some gentle stretches and even try it with your students 

Stay away from:

  • Coffee, smoking, alcohol – these put stress on your nervous system and affects your sleep

  • Resorting to fast food

  • Staying up late

  • Escaping in TV, online shopping or social media

2. Proper Set up – Declutter + Organize Your Space

Not only does this help you focus and make life easier, it also allows you to look at how your space affects your body. Sitting at a desk that isn’t the right height for you or a chair that isn’t ergonomic can cause body pain. Being in physical pain challenges the mind and emotions leaving people irritable and not at their best.

The same goes for your space, if you are always looking for things and stressed because you are not ready for a lesson then it’s time to declutter and get organized. 

Making sure that there is lots of space (ie. a shelf half full rather than packed) allows you to better organize and keep it that way. To achieve this involves letting go of items that you haven’t used in years or don’t match your current intentions and goals. (letting go blogs)

This current situation of needing to be extra safe and the need for more space gives you an opportunity to look at what you really need and see what really matters.

3. Time – Organizing your Time and Creating New Routines

Routines help anchor us regardless of what’s going on in our lives. Routines help ground you, create stability and provide you with some certainty in your life.  Having a morning and evening routine is a great place to start. And also incorporating having a work routine to signal the start and end or your work day. 

Working smart and not hard is another tool you can use to help reduce stress. Thankfully there is an abundance of resources online for teachers so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you do a lesson or new unit. Another great tool is to build connections with colleagues and share resources, collaborate and get support. Although this may seem like too much time in the beginning, it will pay off in the long run. Creating ties also provides you with support interpersonally.

4. Interpersonal + Personal

We don’t always choose the people we work with and that is especially visible in schools. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create connections with others, even those who do not teach in your division. One of the best ways to build healthy ties is to stay away from gossip and incorporate a positive mindset. Taking time at lunch to connect with others is another great way to sustain connections. This also ensures that you are taking a break and can get perspective on something that you might be stuck on. 

Getting creative and finding ways to stay connected is even more important now. Develop a support connection with a few staff members so that you know you have your back covered and that you can do the same for them. Go for a socially distancing walk at lunch, or eat a nearby park if possible. You can even just make a phone call to someone while you sit in your car to get a physical break from your classroom.  

Communication is another tool that helps reduce stress at work. Learning how to express your needs rather than complaining helps people better understand you and if they can help. It also allows  you to see what steps you can take to help change a challenging situation. This establishes a positive rapport because others will see you as someone who is self aware and willing to do something when a problem arises rather than just complain. 

The other aspect of clear communication is being clear on what your work expectations are. I know for myself when I had to switch to online learning in the spring, I was stressed for about a week because I was unclear of my role. Once I spoke to the principal, I understood that I was on the right track and was also given helpful suggestions to approach the job. This changed everything and I was able to continue with ease and focus more on what I was doing rather than worrying if I was doing it right. 

Perfectionism can be a rabbit hole that would be ideal to stay away from when things are intense. Being able to let go of things that have less weight can help relieve stress and save time. When possible delegate so that you can focus on the tasks that require more attention to detail. Someone once told me if your students can do it, let them. It helps build community, responsibility, and shows you students that they are trusted and included.

Incorporating other self care routines like meditating, stretching, journaling and socializing can help you better calm your nervous system, take things less personally and increase your resiliency. 

Regardless of what your situation may be this year, take it one step at a time and incorporate healthy habits and lifestyle changes so that can be your best and do your best.

To learn more strategies on how to cope with stress at work check out 9 Simple Ways to Deal with Stress.

Classroom Organization Checklist


  • Have the majority of your resources online and organized into folders

  • Use up to date and engaging resources

  • Colour code binders for each subject or each strand in a subject

  • Use tabs to help separate units and lessons


On top of your desk

  • Small container for stationary

  • Day plan binder

  • Assessment binder

  • Lap top

Inside your drawers

  • Sticky notes

  • Stapler

  • Tape

  • Paperclips etc.

Student Resources

  • Have a hanging file system on your desk or close to your desk that has all the handouts for the week organized by subject or day of the week

  • Have another hanging file system with all the subjects and then put extra handouts for students so they can access them when needed 

  • Have a “When you were away” folder to put on students desks and then an assigned student put handout inside

Digital Organization

This is so easy to clutter both your browser tabs, files and desktop. Try the following:

  • Create folders in your cloud, platform or hard drive for each subject

  • Have subfolders for units

  • In your lessons documents include hyperlinks to web resources so that you don’t have to keep tabs open and can access them easily 


the handbook


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