CELTA stress is real and happens to most students on the course in one way or another.
It is something I felt and I hear people talk about time and time again.
In fact, if I say ‘CELTA’, ‘stress’ or ‘stressful’ are usually the 2 words which come after it in many people’s minds!
Now, part of the reason for me starting CELTA Helper is to help people on their course in every way I can think of.
I also do not like the idea that so many people are having to endure the stresses of a poorly managed CELTA course because the people running it cannot organise things properly.
As such, below are my tips to help you keep perspective and take care of yourself and your wellbeing on your course.
I also know that most CELTA centres do not even care to help their students with this so feel obliged to write something on it.
Try to be open-minded with all the points suggested below. Nobody is saying you have to do all of them, or indeed that all of them will be for your.
It is more a list of suggestions which have worked wonders for me and which I wish I had had the option to use during my course to reduce the dreaded CELTA stress.
1. Stay Active (to some extent!)
This might sound a little unlikely or almost impossible but I am not suggesting that you will have time to do everything you want.Don’t stop going out for walks, exercising, etc.
You simply won’t have that luxury.Don’t stop going out for walks, exercising, etc.
However, the key thing is to keep active and doing things which you enjoy for physical or mental wellbeing.Don’t stop going out for walks, exercising, etc.
You might like going to the gym 2-3 times a week normally. However, on a CELTA course, you might simply have to make the sessions a bit shorter or go only 1-2 times a week.
But the key thing is that you don’t stop altogether – doing so is a surefire way to make yourself more prone to stress and less likely to feel fully functional on your CELTA course.
My favourite activities are playing basketball, going surfing (see below!) and going for walks with my wife.
2. Keep an Eye on Your Hours of Weekly Sleep
As most of your probably know, not sleeping enough has a major impact on our wellbeing and overall stress levels.
The temptation is to keep working on your CELTA assignments and teaching practice preparations, but that can be an endless task, if you allow it.
Two of the major things that have helped me with this have been my Fitbit and reading the book Sleep: The Myth of the 8 Hours by Nick Littlehales.
The Fitbit tracks my sleep every night (including restless minutes or time awake) so I know exactly how long I have slept for.
This allows me to see when I need to have a power nap after work or study to make up for it.
— stephenbeale (@stephenbeale) August 20, 2017
I have combined the information from my Fitbit with the tips in the Sleep book mentioned above.
The main relevant points the author makes are that we need to see sleep as a continuous thing which works in 90 minute cycles.
Set yourself a goal of having enough cycles per week and you will much better.
It also helps to take the pressure of one bad night’s sleep as you know that you can easily make up for this the next day.
In terms of your CELTA, if you sleep late a couple of nights in a row, remember to make up for it when you can so that the burnout and fatigue don’t mount up as you progress through the course.
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3. Use Headspace
OK, so I might need to tell you a little more about this from my own experience.
A year or so back, a friend who is a yoga instructor told me he had started to meditate every morning.
From this practice, he had gained a new clarity in his thoughts and mind and felt better than he had done in years.
He also told me had started to do it for up to an hour every morning. whI nearly laughed at the thought of doing meditation for ‘a whole hour every morning – not a chance with my schedule!‘.
That’s when he stopped me.
“Get the Headspace app on your phone or tablet. It has 10 days of free meditation practices and there is no need to pay for it as those meditation sessions are enough for you to use every day”.
OK – so I tried it, before work. I loved it.
I found it helped me to block out distracting sounds on public transport, and helped me to focus on my thoughts and gain more control over them.
For the reasons above, I strongly recommend trying the Headspace app before, or during, your CELTA course.
4. Keep Perspective
It is only a course. Yes, you’ve paid a lot for it. Yes, you want to pass. BUT if it is taking a huge toll on you mentally and physically, then it is time to step back.
Is it more important than your health? I’d say, like most people, you will have answered ‘No’ to the question above.
That is because when we take a step back, everything becomes clear and we realise what truly matters.
Without health, we have nothing.
With poor grades and a resubmission on a CELTA, we still have a chance of passing.
Even with a fail, we still have tried our best but it didn’t work out.
Try to take the pressure off yourself and realise that the CELTA will come and go, with whatevever result you get, but your health is indeed more important.
If you would like further reading on this, a book which has massively helped me in this respect is the Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters. It provides practical tips with activities to help you stay feeling positive – highly recommended!
You could also look at articles by Benjamin Foley on Medium.com (a great, free blogging site!)
5. Try Gratitude Practice
This is such a simple practice which I wish I’d had on my CELTA course.
I have only been doing it for the last year or so but it has had a noticeably positive impact on my daily life.
From this, I feel more positive before starting my work or study.
The best part is that it takes less than 30 seconds of your day and you can start right now.
Simply close your eyes and ask yourself:
What 3 things are you thankful for at the moment?
You can say these out loud or simply in your head.
You may find that you have more than 3, which is fine. Just say whatever comes to mind.
Try to repeat this most mornings, or whenever feels right, and keep it going for 21 days if you can.
It certainly worked for me and I like to do it every morning. My fellow English teachers have even commented that I look more positive these days (but they don’t know my secret ingredient!)
Keep CELTA Stress in Check!
Hopefully, the points above will help you to keep your CELTA stress levels low and get through your course.