Our focus this week is on teacher wellbeing, so we asked the charity Education Support to provide some extra insights and advice…
Teachers’ mental health and wellbeing is under pressure as never before, with many school staff feeling more stressed and anxious than usual. It’s a completely natural reaction to the higher levels of distress caused by the unknowns and uncertainty that the coronavirus pandemic has brought about: in education, as well as every other area of our lives. Yet we can all do things to bolster our emotional wellbeing and to improve our ability to manage worries and feelings of being overwhelmed. Make self-care a priority and find things that can help you at home and in school. We all have our own strategies but there are common themes…
Teaching is inherently social and communication is fundamental to everyone working in schools. Share your fears and concerns openly and honestly with your friends, partners, colleagues and managers. This will help you to get some perspective.
At the same time, think about others who you might be able to help; in your school community; at home or in your other networks. A phone call, text, catch-up in person where possible or Zoom get-together; all can really make a difference to how you and others feel. Not only that but helping others can help your feeling of self-worth.
If you have worries, problems or anxieties in or out of work that will not go away, then talking to someone outside your situation can make a huge difference to finding a way through. Don’t wait to reach a crisis point or hold back because you feel your worries are insignificant. If you have a worry that won’t go away, we can help. In these unprecedented times, our free, confidential Helpline continues to be here for anyone working in education. Call the Education Support Helpline 24/7 and speak to a trained counsellor on 08000 562 561.
Be kind to yourself
These are not ordinary times and as we enter the new school year, things will continue to be very different. Stick to priorities and if more can be done then that is a bonus. If you are a senior leader, be mindful of your and your team’s circumstances and workloads. Be realistic about what you and others can deliver but also continue to take the opportunity to look at and approach things differently. The wellbeing of children and staff must continue to be the priority. Many schools have demonstrated this amazingly well in the last few months.
As part of our special Coronavirus support series, Psychotherapist Ben Amponsah outlines 7 key strategies to help teachers and education staff to manage anxiety in current times. You can watch a short video and download our Coronavirus anxiety self-help guide.
Seek financial support if needed
Many households are under increasing financial pressure as a result of the continuing impact of the Pandemic. If you have money worries, check that you are getting what you may be entitled to by visiting www.gov.uk and the charity Turn2us
As the charity here for anyone in the sector, we have dealt with a record number of emergency grant applications since March particularly from supply teachers and those employed on short-term contracts before schools closed. We have also supported those whose partners work has stopped abruptly or income has suddenly reduced. Time and again, people tell us they wish they had known about us sooner. Our confidential grants service continues to be available to anyone in education and we are here to help you find a way through difficult times.
Find a daily routine of self-care for yourself and stick to it as much as you can. It sounds easy but is easy to deprioritise when we have so many pressures to deal with. This should include breaks. Schedule in getting a daily walk in the fresh air or some time sitting in outside space if you have it, perhaps regular online exercise or, of course, mindfulness practice.
Look out for others; help neighbours, friends and others as you can. Whether it’s a doorstep chat or delivery, a brief text or phone call to check-in, it can mean a lot and can help bolster our feelings of connection and purpose. In the past months we’ve been forced to slow down our lives so look for the lasting benefits we can hold onto from this. Take notice of nature. Birdsong is known for benefits for mental and physical health.
It’s the simple things that help us all to stay well-in mind and body. Try to stay active, build some exercise and fresh air into your day whenever you can, eat well and try not to over indulge. Find a leisure activity that you enjoy; gardening, reading, cooking, crafting – whatever works for you. Limit social media and your news consumption if you feel it’s affecting how you feel and make sure you do what you can to help aid good sleep. And talk. We are all dealing with this together as we move into another phase. Looking after ourselves now will make a real difference to how we cope with the challenges ahead.
Read Education Support’s Teacher Wellbeing Index 2019 here. Make mindfulness practice a daily habit for self-care. Start with .begin, our eight-week online introduction to mindfulness course, or sign up to find out more about mindfulness for yourself and your school at our next free information webinar.