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Don't worry, help is at hand for our stressed-out principals

Psychologist Karen Belshaw devotes much of her working life to de-stressing primary principals. She says: "They go into the system as teachers, but that's no preparation for the demands on a principal who has to become an accountant, counsellor, administrator, magician.

"They expend vast energy trying to resolve conflicts and, inevitably, they bring those headaches home with them. You can cope with that for one term, but not for years, before you burn out."

The coping skills Karen imparts include somatic exercises ranging from deep breathing to jogging, and cognitive practices such as mindfulness techniques.

Of the latter, she says: "When a problem crops up you try to keep it in the moment. You stay factual and methodical and deal with the moment." By compartmentalising each challenge, you lessen the prospects of taking it home with you. Easier said than done, but worth a try.

Find Karen at www.stresstraining.ie.

Irish Independent