Wellbeing has become a hot topic recently. But what can we do to make sure we are looking after our mental health this half term?
There’s no question that teaching is a rewarding job. As teachers we inspire, motivate and guide. We are strong influencers in today’s world. After all, helping upcoming generations with their education and future is fulfilling. But things haven’t been easy recently.
With the pandemic still at large in the UK, there has been additional stress and pressures put on many within the teaching profession. For some, just getting through each day recently has been an achievement!
If you are feeling teaching burnout then taking time out for yourself this half term is vital to your continued health and wellbeing. We all have such an important job to do and the children of the UK need us to be on top of our game. Whether you are responsible for primary or secondary education, in the classroom or online, we appreciate the pressures you may be feeling.
Through our experience, we want to share our handy tips for prioritising mental wellbeing, whilst holding onto the love for our jobs.
1. Make sure that you have a work life balance
Right now, it’s likely that life inside and outside the classroom has merged. It’s common that the stresses you are currently experiencing will not only impact on your work but also your personal life. Setting and sticking to clear boundaries will help. Whether that’s turning your phone off once you arrive home, setting weekly work goals, or giving yourself some more ‘me time’. But most importantly this half term, remember that tit’s OK to take some well deserved time out. However, establishing a work / life balance for when you return to school will help in the long run!
2. Keep thing in perspective
If you have a bad day in the corporate world, it’s possible to hide away and simply get through the day. However, in teaching it’s our passion and enthusiasm that we need to continue to show, regardless of what’s going on around us. These are extraordinary times and teachers are dealing with lots of different issues, so lets help to keep things in perspective. Do not suppress your feelings – this is the worst thing to do.
Remember that you cannot fix the current crisis. What you can do is focus on the important role you have to play right now. Be proud of what you’ve achieved. Especially in recent months – you’ve no doubt faced and overcome some complicated issues. Don’t forget to remind yourself of this!
3. Focusing on self-care will improve your overall wellbeing
As teachers we are great at teaching, at guiding, at recommending, yet we can sometimes be the worst students. Think about what advice you would give yourself to help improve or support your mental health.
The most important thing to remember is that taking time out and making time for self-care is not a selfish thing to do. In fact, not taking time to look after yourself could be seen as a more selfish approach. Your mental health is important to the education of our children – this is not something that should be taken lightly. By investing time in yourself, you will be able to stay strong over the coming weeks.
You don’t have to become a yoga or meditation master to practice self-care. Focus on something that allows your brain to calm – it may be gardening, puzzle games or simply going for a walk. What you do isn’t always the thing that matters, it’s making time for yourself and sticking to it that really matters.
4. Establish good habits to look after your mental health
We can all let life get in the way sometimes. We make excuses; we think we have little time; other ‘important jobs are commonly prioritised before our health. Yet, without our health, what are we? It’s time to achieve improved mental wellbeing as teachers by prioritising our health and fitness, our minds and our ability to stay connected to who we are outside of the classroom.
It’s proven that good mental health hygiene will make you more resilient. So don’t wait for your mental health to suffer. Establish good mental health habits now. There’s lots of great advice online but at the bare minimum you should focus on –
- Regular exercise
- Eating well
- Get enough sleep
5. Talk about how you feel
Don’t stop reading here, this is important! Not just for yourself but for your colleagues too! We all know that if we are suffering with our mental health the best thing to do is to talk about it. This may scare you. What will people think? How will it reflect on me as a teacher? But don’t just think about yourself. But think about it another way – there is likely to be another teacher within your school experiencing similar problems. How good would it feel to be able to help each other? That in itself could give you a great sense of achievement. We are all living in uncertain times and accepting this is the first part of the puzzle. Sharing is caring in this challenging but rewarding profession.
You can also use some of the many telephone support and counselling services for teachers for additional help and support.
Whatever you do this half term, just remember to use the time wisely. Recharge your batteries, practice self-care and let’s get the next term started with a strong mind and positive outlook.