If you’re an educator, you’re well aware that your role can be mentally and emotionally taxing at times. While there is great reward in being a teacher or educational support professional, the responsibility also carries its fair share of challenges. You may feel as if you have been absorbing stress from all sides and that your resources have been drained – especially this year. Everyone involved in education has experienced significant stress recently – students, parents, guardians, administrators, colleagues, entire school communities – and that includes you.
That’s why it’s critical to first, care for yourself, so you can effectively and compassionately be available for others. Setting aside time to consider your needs and taking measures to address those needs will pay dividends. Everyone is different, so you’ll need to do what works for you. But here are some tips to get you started.
Top Mental Health Tips for Educators
1. Take a breather from news and social media. While it is important to stay informed, information overload can cause stress. The CDC recommends limiting how often you watch, read, or listen to news stories and social media and taking a hiatus from your TV, smartphone, and computer.
2. Find comfort in a personal routine. According to the WHO, maintaining daily routines or establishing new ones can help reduce stress. For example, get up and go to bed at the same time every day, eat healthy meals on a regular schedule, exercise regularly, and set aside time for working and time for resting.
3. Reduce classroom stress. Whether you’re serving your students in person or online, you can take measures to alleviate pressure for your kids, which will in turn, make life brighter for you. For starters, create a positive climate, build secure relationships with students, focus on belonging and safety, be predictable, and model social-emotional learning (EdWeek).
4. Tap into calm. You can use specific strategies to reset your emotional state and restore your sense of wellbeing. Try taking long, deep breaths into your belly or getting into your favorite stretch or yoga pose. If you’re facing a challenge, talk yourself through the issue or write it down and generate different options and possible outcomes (Edutopia).
5. Follow tips from other educators. No one knows better than those who have been there and done that. Heed advice from other teachers and school support professionals. For example, some teacher-submitted suggestions from Scholastic are to break tasks down, don’t take anything personally, make time for hobbies, enjoy nature, take walks during planning periods, and say no to projects you don’t have time to handle.
6. Ask for help. According to IBCCES, an international teacher credentialing organization, it is imperative for teachers to manage stress because emotions impact decision making, attention, and memory. Educators must manage their emotions because they can impact relationships, health and well-being, and performance in the classroom. IBCCES recommends asking administrators to provide access to wellness programs, support programs, and social and emotional learning programs, all of which can help combat the anxiety educators face.
7. Find the right fit. When you love your job, dealing with stress becomes easier. If you’re unhappy, don’t give up on your career; have faith that the right position is out there for you. Perhaps you need a change of pace, a different atmosphere, or a shift in focus. Or maybe, you’re ready to make a significant change and embark on an adventure to take your skills to another city or state. Consider whether taking a travel assignment might be what you need to renew your passion and reduce your stress.
Above all, know that you are not alone. Across the nation, countless educational professionals and those who support them are standing with you.
To learn more about the exciting possibilities we have for educational professionals, check out our career opportunities with Cross Country Education.