Teaching is often recognised as one of the most stressful professions, and it’s hardly surprising. Mental wellbeing and its importance in relation to your overall health has never been more well documented, but equally it’s probably never been more challenging to maintain good mental health with all the challenges in today’s fast-paced world. Children can suffer from an array of mental worries too – which has certainly been exacerbated by the pandemic – and the support that education professionals can provide can be critically important. Whether you recognise it or not, teachers have a big influence – and if you don’t prioritise your own wellness, your ability to support children will decrease and pupils will ultimately suffer.
As it is World Mental Health Day today (10th October) we wanted to highlight some tips to boost your long-term mental wellbeing.
Top tips for managing mental wellness in education:
Exercise and generally undertaking any kind of physical activity can be highly effective tools, not only in the fight against anxiety and depression, but also in tackling stress. While exercise alone can’t help beat these mental health problems, they can help to alleviate the symptoms, release endorphins and allow your brain to refocus.
Manage time and prioritise
As we all know, teaching can eat into your personal time, but it’s important to work smarter, not harder and try and manage your time and workload to enable you to tackle priority tasks first and to give yourself some free time away from work. That’s easier said than done when there’s a mountain of marking to do, but it’s critical to managing mental health and wellbeing in education professionals.
Be aware of tell-tale signs and triggers
Try making a list of events and situations that leave you emotionally drained or stressed and link some of the ways to reduce stress outlined in this list to each. When these moments arise, which they likely will for most education staff, you can use them as an opportunity to practice your techniques and monitor what works and what doesn’t.
Connect with people
As the saying goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and while it’s not recommended to unload your life’s woes on colleagues, it can be helpful to recognise that your fellow teachers and support staff likely share similar issues to yourself and may even be able to provide useful tips and advice. It’s also not healthy to bottle up all of your issues and the extra support gained from speaking to colleagues, or equally family members and friends, can make the world of difference.
Equally, have some alone time
Sometimes stepping away from things for a while can give you a big boost. Find whatever it is you do to relax; whether that’s listen to music, cook or read a book, as having some downtime and being on your own can allow your mind space to reprioritise and refocus.
Tied into the idea of prioritising your workload that we discussed earlier, setting goals can enable you to manage your work and give you a feeling of reward when milestones are ticked off the list, which in turn helps to keep mental health issues at bay.
It’s really tempting to turn to junk and vices when you’re suffering from poor mental health, however while it might – occasionally – feel good in the short term, it won’t benefit you after that. Eating well and looking after your physical wellbeing will have a huge impact on your mental health; the two work hand-in-hand so you can’t afford to neglect either.
It might sound cheesy, but helping others has been proven to release oxytocin, a chemical which boosts your mood. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed, helping a fellow teacher or education worker might also end up helping you.
Even on the toughest days, you have to try and find something positive and visualise situations that you have handled well. Play them back in your head, rather than focusing on the negatives and you’ll find that you can hold those memories in your mind when going into stressful or challenging situations.
Build your own mental health skills
CPD training for teachers is growing in popularity and can make all the difference when it comes to managing the wellbeing of teachers and other education staff. We offer training for all of our supply teachers which includes focused mental health training. You can find more information available here.
We recognise that, for our supply teachers, the coming months are certainly going to be busy. As the winter months approach and schools and trusts are hit by staff sicknesses, demand for supply staff will increase. Illnesses will impact resources across education, if you want to get first refusal of an opportunity for a school or trust you want to work with, speak to us about the latest roles.
The mental well-being of teaching professionals is something that we take very seriously. If you are struggling, please do speak to us. And if you are in need of any additional assistance, reach out to any of the below: