6 wellbeing tips for the challenges ahead | Education Support
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wellbeing tips for teachers and educaition staff - covid

6 wellbeing tips for the challenges ahead

28th August 2020

Speaking to a colleague in school today, she described feeling overwhelmed and a metaphorical breathlessness at the prospect of school next week.  I am sure that despite our bravado, if we are honest, (which as I will outline later is crucial) it’s how most of us feel.

There can be no doubt, that in all of our professional lives there has never been such a time of unrest as the previous five months and our immediate outlook is filled with uncertainty. We are all planning for a future in which none of us are able to say what it will actually pan out to be like (including those experts who claim to be able to fore-tell the future).

In this short article I would like to briefly suggest six quick tips that will help the wellbeing of teachers and education staff during the exciting and challenging times ahead:

1. Be kind to yourself

No matter how hard you try and how hard you work you are not going to complete your ‘to do’ list.  It is important that we all come to terms with this fact.  It is now time for us all to start treating ourselves better, to start being kinder to ourselves.  It is important to live a healthy lifestyle as this also helps us to be mentally healthier, however, it is also crucial to stop, to watch TV, to read a book or, dare I say, eat that cake!

Focus on the ‘dones’ not the ‘not dones!’

2. Take off your superhero cloak

This is a key theme, I wrote about in a previous blog ‘Time to re-humanise headteachers’   For our own well-being we have to stop being pseudo-superheroes, take off our cloaks, and start requesting support, embracing our weaknesses and being honest about the aspects of our roles that cause us the most sleepless nights, it is then, and only then that we can start resolving the parts of the job that are causing us the greatest levels of anxiety.

3. Choose to use others

All of our schools are full of helpful, caring and trustworthy people.  Too often, headteachers and senior leaders have ridden around schools as lone-rangers.  Taking the worries and stresses of all on our shoulders and then riding into the sunset, feeling like the superhero but actually collapsing into our cup of tea, or glass of wine, fearing how to carry on this charade once the sun rises once more. 

Share with those that care. 

Admit to those with wit. 

Off-load to those that… (I’ve got nothing!)

Our role is very intense; I begin each term knowing that I won’t have quality time to read, or even get my hair cut until the next school break.  By the end of the term I am exhausted as each and every minute of each and every day will have been very intense.  Take time to sit down with a trusted colleague and chat, during this time, share, admit and off-load.  It will help you to be a better leader.

Remember that Education Support is a great support for all of us.

4. Space for self

During lockdown I was able to continue to work hard, which amongst other things edified me, but I was also able to exercise each day.  Furthermore, each day I walked across 14 fields in the Cheshire countryside, stopping at the seventh field in order to meditate, pray and generally partake in mindfulactivities in a beautiful spot in the English countryside.  I aim to continue with this as much as possible after September because I am a better person and a better leader because of the space I have afforded to myself.

5. Be honest

It’s time for us all to start being honest with ourselves, by doing this we can then address the issues that are affecting our well-being.  For instance, often many will be dishonest to others, and in effect, themselves about not exercising or eating unhealthily.  (I’ll start tomorrow!).   By being true to oneself it is more likely that change in the short-term future will occur.  The enemy of progress is discouragement. 

Being honest goes hand in hand with the former four headlines, for example, you are life-affectingly worried about a hostile parent, start the conversation (and therefore the resolution) by stating that this is the concern.  Trust a colleague to share this with and only then can differences begin to be made.

6. Stop beating yourself up

There are enough people and agencies in the profession who are able to do this for us.  Focus on your achievements and strengths.  Sit back and consider what you have done and how many lives have been changed by your actions, strategy and leadership.

Remember, the job that we do, whilst being tough, is an utter privilege.  On a Monday morning we spend our time with beautiful and enthusiastic children – during times of despair consider what else we could be doing!

Darren Morgan is a proud headteacher of a wonderful school and tweets @Moggy14

How we can help 

Teachers and education staff who are feeling stressed or anxious during these uncertain times can get confidential emotional support from our free and confidential helpline: 08000 562561.

What can you do?

If you’re in a position to help others in these extraordinary times, please consider making a donation so that we can continue to answer the increasing number of desperate calls and grants applications we are receiving. Thank you so much.