How are we supposed to expect kids to look after themselves when we’re not prioritising our own wellbeing?

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Teacher wellbeing is a serious issue linked to increased levels of stress in the workplace. Increased stress can have detrimental effects on a teacher’s mental health and the outcomes for their students. 

Education Support surveyed 3,000 teaching staff in 2021 and found that 72% of respondents considered themselves stressed, and a further 74% had “experienced symptoms of poor mental health due to their work”. 

It’s time to act now and prioritise teacher wellbeing. Here are five simple ways to support yourself outside the classroom. 

1. Check Your Sleep Schedule 

One of the most significant factors in maintaining your body’s physical and mental health is quality sleep. We’ve needed sleep ever since the day we were born. Some need more than others; some sleep multiple times a day, and others sleep in one big block. Regardless of how you sleep, you need to ensure you’re getting enough!

Check your bedtime routine. Is it chaotic or unpredictable?

Developing a structured bedtime routine allows your mind and body to prepare for a good night’s rest. Things like having a bath or shower, reading a book, and practising mindfulness can contribute to a healthy sleep routine.

You’ll probably notice the mornings feel more manageable because a consistent sleep schedule improves your body’s sleep-wake cycle. 

2. Treat Yourself 

When was the last time you did something for yourself? Have you treated yourself recently?

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Sometimes the concept of a reward can be lost in translation. For example, you might consider having a chocolate bar as a ‘reward’ at lunchtime, but you’re just feeding your body – not rewarding it.

Consider doing something just for you, whether that be a night out with some friends or a night in with a takeaway and your favourite Netflix show. You can even develop some more practical ways to reward yourself on the go.

Just finished marking your class homework – treat yourself to something tasty (we love biscuits).

Supplying ourselves with the odd treat now and then keeps us feeling energised and content, allowing us to continue maintaining healthy habits and managing stress levels.

3. Join a Teacher Community!

The beauty of the internet is that you can reach people worldwide within a few clicks, quicker if you already know these people.

The internet is full of teaching communities from every walk of life.

If you teach it, there’s a community for it. And what better way to achieve positive teacher wellbeing than by sharing ideas with other teachers? You can browse forums and social media, joining groups that pique your interest along the way.

There are tons of supportive resources available for education staff on social media like Pinterest and Flipboard.

Plus, you’ll probably make friends too. New relationships and reassurance within our careers can help drastically improve our mental wellbeing.

4. Redevelop Your Boundaries

The coronavirus pandemic saw many of us relocate to the comfort of our own homes while still delivering lessons via virtual classrooms.

school children gathered around two children with laptops in a classroom

In the beginning, it was almost impossible to imagine teaching from your kitchen table, but now that we’re back in the classroom, maybe it’s time to do a boundary check. Habits may have formed, like bringing too much marking home or replying to emails after the workday.

These are signs that our work is starting to crossover into home time. To deal with this, think about the things you do after school. Here are a few ways to shut off from ‘teacher mode’:

–        Phone a friend or family member and ask them about their day.

–        Change your clothes if you wear a uniform because you can’t relax in your work clothes.

–        Go for a walk out in nature.

–        Set days when you bring work home and days when you don’t.

–        Work on a hobby.

Speaking of hobbies… Our last tip might be the best. 

5. Develop a Passion For Something

It may surprise you, but having a hobby not only benefits you – but even the young people you teach.

Choosing a hobby doesn’t have to be a definitive process. Hobbies can develop into passions too!

Taking photographs is a hobby, and so is writing. And reading. Cooking. Baking.

You get the idea.

Hobbies are easy to come by, and they can keep your life balanced. Participating in activities that bring you joy helps relieve stress. This works by keeping your mind focused on something that isn’t necessarily associated with your work or another responsibility.

If you’re struggling to think of some ideas, why not pick from our list of hobbies to improve your wellbeing:

–        Rock Painting

–        Sightseeing

–        Gardening

–        Running/Yoga

–        Attempting new recipes

–        Candle-making

–        Journaling/Scrapbooking

Hobbies are a great way of looking after your physical and emotional wellbeing, giving you a successful work-life balance.

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A Word from Willowbrook

Like all tips and guidance, some things may or may not work for you, and that’s okay! Our advice is meant to be taken as a first step based on experience and research. You should always seek help if you think your physical or mental health is taking a toll. 

Please visit the Mental Health and Wellbeing Guidance from GOV UK for more mental health resources. 

You can also check out our Jolly Back ideas to help improve back health and wellbeing in the classroom. 

Looking for more ideas? Here are 7 Ways to Show Teachers Appreciation!

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