A Guide To: Teacher Wellbeing and Mental Health
We all have ups and downs in our well-being and mental health. Workloads and extended work hours can lead to a build-up of stress and tension. Teachers are more likely to recognise their job as causing them stress and therefore having a negative impact on their mental health. According to reports, there has been a recent rise in the percentage of teachers reporting mental health problems.
What is the importance of teacher wellbeing?
Teacher wellbeing and mental health is essential for developing a mentally healthy school overall. When we feel motivated and engaged, we feel more focused and able to deal with what life throws at us, including busy days which typically, cannot always be avoided. It’s important that a school promotes good wellbeing for staff and pupils to encourage a general and healthy mental state throughout.
Schools should generally provide staff with mindfulness, relaxation, and managing stress sessions. However, there are ways to include this yourself and throughout your everyday life to keep your wellbeing in tip-top shape.
Incorporate positivity into your day and workspace
When it comes to workplace stress, your environment plays a key part in your wellbeing. Setting healthy boundaries that promote our wellbeing is crucial. Find ways to turn off your teacher mode, so that you can relax when you get home and try to limit the amount of schoolwork you bring home.
Create a dedicated space for a timeout so you can practice mindfulness. To feel comfortable, it’s important to have a space to support your coping mechanisms. Whether it’s in your garden, bedroom or simply having a clear desk at home in the evenings. Give yourself the space and time, both physically and mentally to have the freedom to relax, breathe and think. Why not cook yourself your favourite meal or indulge in a massage.
You’re not just a teacher
Continuing on from incorporating positivity into your day and workspace, you need to remember that you’re still human. You might be a teacher but what about your life apart from that? Think about other proactive ways to manage the stress in your life that can help your mental health.
Building new relationships and maintaining existing connections is key to our wellbeing. Remember to spend time with family and friends or prioritise time for hobbies to meet new people.
Talk it out
Talking and listening can help. Occasionally, people struggle to communicate their emotions so if we listen, we can understand. Talking about mental health helps to normalise and reduce the stigma surrounding the topic. Within the teacher community, talking about your mental health and wellbeing can create the acknowledgment that everyone experiences challenges from time to time.
Why not team up with a colleague and have regular check-ins with each other?
Create boundaries between home and school
Set yourself a reasonable time to leave school each day and stick to it regularly. Explore ways that you can switch your mindset to turn off teacher mode so that you can relax. This could be as simple as changing clothes at home, going for a walk or spending time with loved ones. Although it seems impossible, try limiting the amount of school work you bring home and try to sort most of it at school. This could be a small reduction gradually until you are left with barely any that needs to be done at home.
Try a problem-solving attitude
Teaching can be emotionally challenging and it can be easy to focus on all of the problems. However, having a rant to somebody may feel great for the short term but it never solves the problem. Try setting up a way which helps you to focus on the solutions to problems to lift the stress. This could be a debriefing structure to manage your thinking in challenging situations or having support from a colleague as a mentor.
Create good sleeping habits
To boost and maintain your emotional and physical wellbeing, getting as much good quality sleep as possible is vital. This can feel tough for teachers due to late nights that can occur from the workload. It is best to set out a bedtime routine, such as having a bath, doing some skincare and getting into your PJs. You could also consider using a sleeping app to help guide you and set reminders for when you should go to sleep.
Make use of apps
In recent times, more of us have turned to use technology and apps to help solve our problems. It has been proven that mindfulness lets us practice staying in the moment, helping prevent the mind from drifting away from tasks and there are wellbeing apps to help us along with this. Mindfulness is trainable and an app may help to make a difference in dealing with daily life stresses. Downloading an app is not a quick fix for mental wellness, it takes time and commitment to see improvement, however, it’s worth giving them a go.
Why not try out:
What’s up? – this is a tool that promotes positive wellbeing and mental health for everyone. Wellbeing staff can monitor and message anyone within their organisation that needs advice or support.
Mood Kit – helps to engage in mood-enhancing activities, change unhealthy thinking, rate mood across time, and create journal entries – all to promote wellbeing!
Ten percent happier – discover guided meditations and practical teachings to help lower your stress levels and increase your happiness, even if you are new to it
Moodfit – fitness for your mind. Helps reduce stress and build up the fitness of your mental health – all while increasing motivation, reducing procrastination, feeling more positive, and much more.
Mindfulness is a stress-reduction technique to assist people with anxiety, depression, and pain. It helps achieve a calm state of acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a unique training method. Mindfulness exercises help you to be in the present moment.
By working on and thinking about your own mental health, you can start to build an environment that encourages others to support one another when times get tough. Checking in on your pupils and colleagues. Perhaps seeing if there are any activities that could help unwind staff and bring positivity to the school’s culture. In the next part of our blog we discuss keeping fit and active during a pandemic. Come back soon to find out more!
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*Updated on 10/10/23*