77% of education staff have experienced symptoms of poor mental health due to their work, according to research from Education Support, 2021.*
72% are stressed, rising to 84% with senior leaders.
Teachers’ mental health is going through a crisis.
One-third of new teachers are leaving their job within five years of starting. Demanding workloads and lack of control are having negative consequences.
Structural changes need to happen, but what can you do to support your mental health now?
In this article, we outline 5 ways you can look after your mental health as a teacher.
What are the symptoms of poor mental health in a teacher?
Poor mental health can present itself in several ways. Below are just a few of the most common:
- Struggling to concentrate
- Excessive worrying
- Low mood
- Lack of interest in day-to-day activities
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Change in sleeping habits
- Avoiding social activity
5 ways to improve your mental health as a teacher…
1. Talk to someone and ask for help
This can sometimes feel like a struggle. People worry that they will be judged negatively for how they’re feeling.
But you don’t have to persevere and deal with this alone. Talking about your feelings is a positive action.
The mere act of talking itself can help you cope. Being listened to can give you that support you need.
Talk to a colleague if you can and someone who has the authority to put things in place that can support and help you.
You may want to also speak to a doctor who can refer you to a specialist in helping you deal with problems.
There are also charities available for you to speak to. Education Support is a UK charity with a free helpline. You can call them on 08000 562 561.
2. Plan ahead with realistic expectations
Planning can alleviate a lot of worry. It allows you to put down all the tasks in your head, down on paper.
It’s important not to simply write out a to-do list and then set yourself an unrealistic expectation that you will get it all done by a date that’s simply too soon.
Split up the tasks and add a timeframe for each.
If you find yourself overworked, speak to someone about it.
They can help you manage your workload, identify lower priorities and find any shortcuts that you can use to cut the admin.
3. Maintain healthy boundaries between home and work
Education staff are no strangers to completing work at home.
Whilst there are benefits to this, it can blur the lines mentally to what is home life and what is work-life.
Where you can, separate the two.
Set a time for yourself where you will switch off and have officially finished work for the day.
Once finished, if there are lots of papers or books, tidy them away and put them out of sight. This is where the classic “out of sight, out of mind” saying comes into play.
Turn off any forms of communication with work, even if it’s just notifications, and don’t look at them until the start of work the next day.
Don’t be tempted to quickly check or take another look at something — it is not helpful.
Prioritise yourself, the work can wait.
4. Do something you enjoy separate from work
This can be anything that you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive.
The only requirement is that it’s not related to work.
You want to engage yourself mentally in something else. Work is finished, now it’s time to enjoy yourself or simply relax.
People sometimes find that mentally engaging activities are more helpful for switching off from work.
Passive activities such as scrolling on your phone, or watching TV can allow your mind to still dwell on the day.
If you do something that requires a little bit of mental effort, such as reading, your mind is less likely to wander and keep yourself focused on what you enjoy doing.
5. Connect with friends and family
Connection with other people is vital. This can be hard when you’re not feeling yourself.
We are social creatures, and being around others can take you out of your head.
But don’t force yourself to meet up with someone who feels draining. Arrange to find time for friends or family, where you can just be yourself. People who you can tell anything to.
If you let them know how you’re feeling, that can help alleviate any worry that you have to “perform” for the occasion. You don’t have to go too in-depth if you don’t want to, you could simply say you’ve been having a bit of a stressful time and just want to unwind.
These are five methods you can incorporate into your life as a teacher. There are so many more things you can do, and it’s about finding what works for you.
If you think planning would help, Classimize can support you with this.
You can organise lessons on an online planner that’s completely customisable.
Book a 20 minute demo now, and let’s simplify your work.