Purpose: The purpose of this mixed-methods research is to understand leader stressors, the impacts of stress, self-care strategies used to mitigate stress, and gender-related differences.
Research Methods: School and district leaders in a suburban school district in the northeastern United States (n = 33) completed a mixed-methods survey. Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed separately. Data were compared and integrated, then interpreted to understand educational leaders’ experiences.
Findings: Leaders reported high levels of role-related stress from external pressures, responsibilities related to managing others, interactions with families, and job-related concerns. Impacts of this stress were multifaceted and found to spill over to home. Female leaders were more likely to report stress from concern for the well-being of others and from interactions with teachers and staff. To mitigate effects of stress, leaders engaged in cognitive, emotional, occupational, spiritual, and physical self-care. Female leaders were more likely to report occupational self-care and social support seeking.
Implications for Research and Practice: This research suggests that districts should invest in providing mentorship, professional learning communities, and professional development focused on well-being to support educational leaders. More research is needed on individual and school-level characteristics that may influence leader experiences of stress and engagement in self-care.