Although stress is a part of life, it can become harmful. Here are a number of suggestions that a teacher in the program, Tom Anderson, offered during a IE Orientation session in 2014, but which are as relevant now as they were then.
Attitude: Being positive about what you are doing can help you to relax and enjoy it.
Physical Health: Eating properly balanced meals at regular intervals is important, as is avoiding excessive amounts of caffeine and soft drinks. Exercise is also helpful and Aoyama Gakuin University has a fitness center that only charges about ¥2000 for a one-year membership. Several teachers in the program cycle to the campus. Sleep is very important. Preparation for sleep should be done two hours before going to bed. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks before bedtime and avoid reading in bed.
Mental Health: Journaling can be very useful. Once whatever is bothering you is down on paper, it is no longer spinning in your head. Having hobbies that are enjoyable and relaxing can reduce stress. Working in a garden or with house plants can also be very relaxing. It is easy to become isolated, particularly as a foreign teacher in Japan, so finding a group–whether the group’s focus is you hobby, vocation, or one with a cultural or religious aim–can be very helpful, too.
Resources: First of all, it helps to make friends among other teachers who may be able to offer some practical advice about classroom challenges, or even about getting things done in Japan. There are also many useful websites or SNS groups to draw on. TEN (Tokyo Expat Network Facebook group may be helpful:
Meetups in Tokyo lists all the groups meeting within the Tokyo area on such diverse interests as amateur theatre, creative writing, politics, and travel.
TELL is dedicated to providing support and counseling services to Japan’s international community. They offer a life line, community events, and volunteering opportunities.