Why is it that we are all too quick to assume that education professionals are a special group of people who are perpetually happy and healthy? In reality, they are just like any other human being – they get stressed at work and it is vital that senior leaders create a school culture with teacher wellbeing at its core.
Staff in the education sector need to eat well, work out, get enough sleep, seek time for relaxation and find time for self-care. In this blog, we share five of the most important things that school staff need to consider to maintain their wellbeing.
Stress and Anxiety and its Impact on Teacher Wellbeing
Managing stress is a priority as teachers are much more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety than the general population.
Teachers, because of their jobs, are constantly worrying about the mental health and wellbeing of their students and ensuring that they are learning but are they managing their own life to reduce stress in their life? It is the responsibility of their line manager to monitor work life balance and check how staff feel and their level of job satisfaction.
In an ideal world, everyone would have a balanced diet consisting of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat or no fats, low-sugar products, and quality protein sources. But for teachers, we often have the luxury of walking away from the cafeteria or pulling up to the school and going home.
Do your best to eat well. On the surface it is simple: eat breakfast, eat lunch, and eat dinner. It’s true that a short mid-afternoon snack is ideal for energy and hydration, but that doesn’t mean that there is no room for a healthy snack.
However, For many teachers, sitting down and eating a meal in the classroom is just not an option. Do not feel guilty about your decision to eat out every once in a while.
Get Enough Sleep
It’s likely you’re aware of this. However, just in case you were unaware, this is an important step in maintaining your wellbeing. Sleep is something that many people lack. In fact, roughly 25% of us aren’t getting enough shut-eye, according to Harvard Medical School.
What is more, adults who report not sleeping enough are more likely to die from heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. This can have real, negative consequences on health and teacher wellbeing. It’s time we make sleep an important part of our daily lives.
Exercise is important for the human body. It improves circulation and increases our energy levels. However, for teachers, it can be particularly beneficial. The brain releases the hormone dopamine when we exercise, which helps to stimulate the reward system in the brain and improve concentration.
We also all know that teachers work long hours, and taking a short break to exercise gives them the energy and mental clarity to tackle any challenges that come their way in the classroom. The Headspace app is a great tool to help teachers set up a meditation practice, and is free for school and college staff members.
Make Time for Relaxation
You may have heard of the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule states that a small number of things are the most important drivers of success. In psychology, this is known as the law of the imbalance.
In order to really know what your priorities are, it is best to spend a significant amount of time choosing the very few most important things. Then, you can spend even more time prioritizing those very important things.
One of the most important things that teachers need to make time for is relaxation. Letting go of the responsibility for other people’s kids, and letting yourself focus on your own needs and goals.
Find Time for Self-care
In order to create, motivate and inspire your students, you need to have the space to let your brain work. And so to allow your brain to do its thing, you need to find the time and space to slow down. Even a 30-minute break, after working for 10 hours, can do you a world of good.
Evidence shows that stress and anxiety can be found in kids as young as five, with their number of feelings that are defined as “negative” skyrocketing by the age of 11.
Like all people, teachers need to take time out for themselves. They also need to spend time away from the classroom for professional development, to maintain personal connections and to connect with other people who also contribute to their wellbeing.
The more time teachers commit to taking care of themselves, the more they have the energy to positively impact their students.
Check out the BBC’s site dedicated to wellbeing here