Coronavirus: 8 ways to boost teacher wellbeing

Identify goals, 'buddy up' and go back to basics to protect mental health, school staff are told
6th April 2020, 12:13pm
Amy Gibbons


Coronavirus: 8 ways to boost teacher wellbeing
Coronavirus: What Can Teachers Do To Protect Their Wellbeing

In these unprecedented times, teachers, support workers and other key staff have been put under an enormous amount of pressure to keep calm and carry on.

Many are putting on a brave face, risking their own safety to help others.

And while many will be aware of the strain on their mental health, it can be difficult to manage the effects of this at a time of such rapid change.

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Experts say that during this time of "change and uncertainty", keeping our wellbeing in check "becomes even more important".

Coronavirus: Protecting teacher wellbeing

So, to help school staff manage their mental health, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, a London-based charity, has compiled a list of eight tips for boosting wellbeing during periods of disruption.

  1. Identify your goals
    Identify what "self-care" means for you and build in more activities that you enjoy or help to keep you calm and relaxed. Once you are clear about what works for you, you can start to identify some simple personal goals. For example, you could go out for a daily walk, meditate or exercise. Set aside 15 minutes a day to do this, if you can.
  2. Plan your wellbeing
    Plan the activities that you enjoy. Set aside some time at particular times of the day for your activities. These may be things you already enjoy doing, such as reading, yoga or connecting with friends and family, or you may want to take this time as an opportunity to try new activities such as cooking, running or meditation.
  3. Use media positively
    Engage with the media mindfully. It can be a great way to connect with others and find out information. However, the things that we watch, see and hear can impact upon how we feel, think and behave. Find ways to use the media to energise yourself and to improve your social support networks.
  4. Take time to breathe
    Deep breathing can be calming. Taking a minute (or less!) to stop and breathe can help you to manage feelings of stress or tension, as well as to reflect on what needs to happen next. There are many useful apps which you can download for guided breathing exercises, such as The Breathing App and Headspace.
  5. Buddy up
    Create a buddy system. Knowing that there is support around you can feel comforting. You may wish to choose a "buddy" within your staff team and/or outside of your work life, who you can talk to you about your wellbeing. Remember that everyone has different needs. Making connections with friends, family and colleagues is key to our wellbeing but not everyone wants to take part in collective chats or activities. It is important to respect each individual's strategies for managing their own wellbeing, while making sure that all staff have someone looking out for them in a supportive and non-obtrusive way.
  6. Go back to basics
    Focus on your basic needs. During times of change, focusing on maintaining a healthy routine including sleeping, exercising and eating well can be helpful in creating consistency and balance in our lives.
  7. Express yourself
    Finding a way to express how you feel can be powerful in helping to process strong feelings. This can include talking to someone about how you feel or expressing yourself more creatively through methods such as writing, art, sports or music.
  8. Be kind to yourself
    Be patient with yourself. Like any other change that we may make, embedding more positive self-care strategies into our daily routines can take time. Be as consistent as you can while you make these changes and remember that some self-care is better for your wellbeing than none at all.

The charity added: "We cannot overestimate the importance of looking after each other and supporting your wellbeing and the wellbeing of others at this time.

"Change can be disruptive and people respond in different ways, but there will be challenges to all of us during this period.

"Being mindful of the need to take care of your own wellbeing is the best place to start."

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