It’s World Mental Health Day on 10 October and as usual, we’ve been thinking about our teachers.
We know that you take your work really seriously, but being passionate about education and committed to the children in your classroom can amplify the stress and anxiety that come with a challenging workload.
Fortunately mental health issues have lost much of the stigma they used to carry. We’re much more aware of the impact these problems have on everyday life and the devastating long term effects they can cause.
At Hourglass Education, we decided to celebrate World Mental Health day by taking a practical approach. We’ve put together three really simple things you can do now - this minute, today - to reduce your stress and anxiety and simply make you feel better.
For most education professionals, the job itself is not the problem. Instead, it’s everything that goes on around the edges – juggling all the ‘stuff’ takes its toll.
- So take a moment – now – to think about how your day might unfold. Use a pen and paper to list the important things that you want to get done. You should include personal things too, whether it’s a WhatsApp message to a friend, or giving a neighbour a comforting hug. List the ‘tasks’ for the day and put them in order of priority. Don’t be afraid to tick them off as you go – the a sense of achievement will boost your positive feelings.
- If things do start to get sticky, breathing can help. Getting overtaken by the task and being distracted by what’s going on around us can often mean we end up literally holding our breath – especially when under stress. It may seem basic, but using exercises to harness cardiac muscles has a calming influence. It can make the difference between an adrenaline-fuelled state when your body is poised to fight or flight, or calm and balance.
The best thing about these exercises? You can literally do them anytime, anywhere:
- Breathe deeply through your mouth, make sure the breath reaches into your diaphragm
- Hold for four seconds
- Breathe out, count to six seconds as you do
- Hold for two or three seconds and then repeat
- This evening, pick up your pen and paper again. Think of three things that went well during the day and write them down. Anything positive is worth noting, even if it wouldn’t seem much to other people. Reflecting on day-to-day triumphs, no matter how small, gives you tangible and positive ‘evidence’ of your own success.
It helps because it’s about taking charge, and positive action helps to counteract the negative aspects of a heavy workload. If it does seem overwhelming at any point, this can help you take stock, focus your mind and rebalance towards the positive.
We know that stress can get to everyone. Beware of it nibbling away at your own wellbeing, and keep an eye on your colleagues, too. It’s not always obvious, but when stress makes itself felt, it peeps out through irritability, taps you on the shoulder with headaches and muscle tension, and stamps its feet with irrational behaviour. This World Mental Health Day, take extra care of yourself and the people around you. Be a mental health and wellbeing champion and reap the benefits.