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Coping with Stress: The 4 R’s Approach

Vivienne Chan
22 Feb 2021
5 minutes read
Coping with Stress: The 4 R’s Approach

A recap on 'The 4 R’s Approach to Coping with Stress' from our webinar: Towards Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing.

There is a lot going on at the moment. To understand and address information overload or stress in everyday life, Helen Woodward discussed research by Dr Martin Hilbert in our Towards Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing webinar. He reported we’re dealing with as much as five times more information as we did in 1986, and that’s before considering how the pandemic has amplified this. Helen said:

“Every day, each person is producing approximately six newspapers worth of information. And all this information, of course, needs storing. (...) So this feeling of information overload is increasing. And we start to experience the future rushing up to us. We start to feel that pressure of information pressing in on us, which adds to our feelings of anxiety and stress.”

In our webinar, we explored how to be attentive and honest about our stressors, and learn from what we observe to support our own mental health. Victoria Hewett - teacher, author and contributor to Education Support - highlighted The 4 R's to manage stress’ approach to address reports of the education workforce feeling overwhelmed. So, if you’re looking for positive ways forward, this recap might provide ideas.


“Firstly we all need to recognise and acknowledge the many elements that may be causing us strain” - Victoria Hewett

Day to day, it’s easy to get lost in a blur of responsibilities without pausing to check in with yourself. Even when armed with a positive outlook, most of us would benefit from taking a moment each day to consider how we are feeling, both physically and mentally. Is there a source of physical tension or emotional anxiety to address?

We only have control over certain elements of our lives, but acknowledging our pressure points is a useful way of seeing where we can help ourselves. Helen suggested using the time where you make your morning coffee to pause, reflect and recognise how you’re feeling and what’s on your mind.

Rest and recoup

“It is really important that we take the time whenever possible to slow down, relax and recover” - Victoria Hewett

Change can be tiring. It’s understandable to feel restless after a long week, but to remedy the feeling, aim to find a moment of calm in your daily routine.

Spending 15 - 30 minutes engaging in a relaxing activity; such as reading, mindfulness or taking a slow walk, can help you wind down and recharge. This is especially important when working at home when it’s tempting to take work into the evening.


“A problem shared is a problem halved” - Victoria Hewett

While we all need space, missing face-to-face interactions is really common. We can manage this feeling by trying to maintain our professional and personal relationships; a socially distanced lunch break with a colleague for a catch-up, or a phone call or text to a friend or loved one.

In the webinar, Peter described how we can have supportive discussions through simple adjustments in language. Asking ‘how are you today?’ instead of ‘how are you?’ can open up a conversation, so we can support each other in a more meaningful way.


“Engaging in activities that you enjoy can build a buffer against stress" - Victoria Hewett

Participating in recreational or leisure activities can help us step away from work and give us a stronger sense of self and work-life balance. Organising regular opportunities to pursue our interests can punctuate mundane tasks, and help us feel motivated in other areas of life.

Whether it’s painting, playing music, learning or exercise, plan some personal time. If you’re looking for ways to stay active in lockdown, our team has a few fitness recommendations.

What have you learnt?

We hope you took away ideas for self-compassion or to add to a wellness plan. If you have positive wellbeing ideas to share with the supply teaching community, let us know on Instagram.

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