Research shows that 69% of teachers are stressed at work and people are leaving the profession at a faster rate than ever before, but we don’t need academic research to see that teaching has become an increasingly stressful job.
Every day the Professionals Online Safety Helpline assists teachers in dealing with online safety issues. Many are stressed and close to burnout, and as a result, miss crucial signs when managing online safety incidents. Sorting out a fake Instagram account, for example, might be just another task on a long list, but when you’re swamped you might miss the subtleties of bullying or exploitation that sit behind it.
The amount of work has increased, but the number of hours in which to do it hasn’t. And this is reflected across the board in other children’s service. It is important that children have a good time in school and are happy enough to learn, but in order to run a school effectively enough to achieve that, schools need a staff force that are also happy enough to teach. Teaching will have an impact on the rest of a child’s life, so it’s imperative that when we are interacting with children, we are strong enough in ourselves to be able to support them with their needs.
With all that in mind we wanted to focus on the wellbeing of the children’s workforce for Mental health Awareness Week 2019. We can’t fix the big things, but to help you manage them better, we’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you look after yourself as a priority this week and throughout the year.
Organise - It sounds obvious, but when you have a lot on your plate, it’s easy to forget or miss things. To avoid those feelings and not give yourself a reason to berate yourself, make a plan. Some people like lists, other don’t. It could be a little timetable you make for yourself, a post-it note or a spreadsheet. Personally, at the end of day I write just a few things down to remind me what I need to focus on in the morning - so I don’t miss anything that I left the day before and to give me some direction in the morning, before the caffeine kicks in!
Be outdoors - Connecting with nature is proven to reduce stress levels and improve your mood, even if it’s just 10 minutes outdoors during lunch or 20 minutes when you get home. Go for a walk, run or cycle; whatever suits you, but do it outdoors. The weather doesn’t have to be perfect, sometimes a blustery day can really help blow away the cobwebs! Try a spot of mindfulness. Divert your mind from your worries and pay attention to your surroundings.
Take a technology break – Exciting, useful and helpful as tech might be, it’s really good to take a break every now and then. Personally, I notice my wellbeing decline and the fog slipping in if I have spent too much time scrolling. It’s all too easy, but comparing your life with the best bits of others is never going to result in a positive mental attitude. Just as we encourage children to limit their screen time, so should we!
Know when to say “no” (and “yes”) - You don’t have to take on every piece of work thrown at you. It’s important that we all understand our limits and say “no” (without being rude) from time to time. Similarly, its good sometimes to say “yes”. Say “yes” to fun activities that help you relax. Say “yes” socialising after work”, the laundry can wait!
Do something for you and only you - It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something that brings you joy. Pamper yourself with a new facemask, go to the gym, do a crossword. Whatever floats your boat.
If you do feel you want to invest some more time into your mental health and wellbeing, but don’t know where to start, there is now an army of apps out there to help you. Helpfully, Mind have put together a little list of some of the best apps available in this space.
Lastly, reach out - there are lots of support services, helplines and unions that are there to help you. And don’t forget, when it comes to stressful online safety issues, the Professionals Online Safety Helpline is here to offer advice and help lighten the load.
Wishing you a happy Mental Health Awareness Week from the whole team.