The only resolution we need in 2021? Be kind to ourselves | Education Support
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New years resolutions - teachers and education staff

The only resolution we need in 2021? Be kind to ourselves

29th December 2020

Deputy head Sarah Mullin shares 5 ways we can be proactive about prioritising our wellbeing in 2021, as if nothing else, 2020 has taught us that self-care is far from selfish, it is essential for us to survive and thrive in the jobs we love to do.

January is a time when we would traditionally be waving goodbye to the previous year and welcoming in the new. 2020 was an exceptionally challenging year in many ways, and it seems that 2021 has already presented education professionals with further challenges as we continue to educate the nation’s children and young people during a global pandemic.  

And so, instead of setting ourselves ambitious New Year’s Resolutions this year, perhaps the best goal we could have is to be a little bit kinder to ourselves. 

Here are five ways that we can be proactive about prioritising our wellbeing in 2021. After all, if there’s one lesson that 2020 taught us, it is that self-care is far from selfish, it is essential for us to survive and thrive in the jobs we love to do. 

1. It’s ok not to be ok

These really are unprecedented times. The educational landscape is changing rapidly, and it feels as though the guidance is changing on a daily basis. Education professionals are committed to playing their part in the response to Covid-19, but it is only natural that we might feel anxious about our own health, and the health of our vulnerable loved ones. We may all be navigating these challenging times together, but each of us will be responding to the pandemic in different ways. Please know that your feelings are valid. Reach out and speak to someone you trust, and be assured that the Education Support helpline is here for advice and support whenever you need it.

2. Look for the positives

Whilst every day may not be good, it is important to try and find the good in every single day – even if some days you have to look a little harder than others. By looking for the positive, finding the little things in life to be grateful for, it helps us to focus on what’s really important in life. It won’t always be easy, and it may take some time to train your mind to flip the narrative, but positive thoughts breed positive thoughts.

3. Know your worth

Let 2021 be the year that you realise your worth. Never judge yourself by someone else’s standards and try not to let anyone else bring you down. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you, support you, and challenge you to be the best version of yourself. Try to be an encourager for others too; the world has enough critics already.

4. Banish imposter syndrome

Imposter Syndrome can strike at any time. It causes us to feel that we are not good enough, that we do not deserve the success we have achieved. Although we often internalise these feelings, it helps to know that many others experience the same emotions. So let’s try to banish those bouts of Imposter Syndrome next year. You’ve worked hard to become an education professional, and you have a plethora of certificates, thank you cards, and praise emails to prove it. Please remember that you are good enough. If you feel like you’re struggling next year, it really does help to talk to someone you trust for advice, and reassurance.  

5. Pursue excellence, not perfection

As education professionals, we often set ourselves impossibly high standards that are incredibly difficult to meet. Let’s make 2021 the year that we aim to work smarter, setting ourselves high standards that challenge us, but are realistic and manageable. We do not live in a perfect world, so let us realise that mistakes will happen. We become stronger by working through errors and learning from them. The current health crisis has shown us the importance of being flexible, and creative in the ways that we work, and as we enter 2021, it’s important for us to appreciate the value of reflecting on our goals and adjusting them for the ever-changing times we are currently living in. 

2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but we learned that we are far more resilient than we ever realised. May 2021 bring you good health, and happiness, and the strength to get through whatever challenges may come your way.  

Sarah Mullin is a Deputy Headteacher at an all-through school in the West Midlands. She was named a Rising Star in Education and Academia in 2020 and she is the recipient of the ‘Contribution to Education of the Year’ award. Sarah is the curator of ‘What They Didn’t Teach Me on My PGCE’ and the founder of #EduTeacherTips, a YouTube channel for teachers by teachers.

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 supporting our Christmas appeal so that we can continue to answer the increasing number of desperate calls and grants applications we are receiving. Thank you so much.