'Overthinking is a growing problem for teachers'

Try these tips for stepping off the neverending 'merry-go-round' that teaching can become

'Overthinking is a growing problem for teachers'

I often advise education professionals – from class teachers to senior leaders – to take care of themselves, given the evidence that workload and the stress it can cause is increasing.

Many working in education cite clear examples of the job affecting their health. Statistics and surveys show an increase in absence as a result of stress and anxiety-related conditions.

One manifestation of this that I see regularly is overthinking: people either beating themselves up for a "mistake" made last week, or fretting about how on earth to succeed tomorrow.


More stories like this: Visit the Tes teacher wellbeing hub

Teaching: Tough, tiring, but more fun than other things

Teacher support: ‘I’ve had to close my classroom door and cry’


While some factors are outwith our control, we can take steps to improve our own health and wellbeing – like not overthinking everything. It's easy to dwell on how bad you feel and concentrate on all things you have no control over; we all need to learn to prioritise and to let other things go, to stop second-guessing everything or analysing it to death.

If work is keeping you awake at night; if you are taking work-related matters personally; if you always expect the worse to happen – then you are probably overthinking and doing damage to your health and wellbeing.

So, you've got to find ways to switch off. The best ways of doing this? That’s down to personal circumstances and context, but here are my ways of keeping mentally healthy.

Each day I try to: get one hour of exercise; drink two litres of water; limit my coffee intake to three cups; sing my head off to my four favourite songs; eat my five a day; be outdoors, regardless of the weather, for at least six minutes; find at least seven minutes to chat and laugh with others; get eight hours of sleep; read at least nine pages of a book; and, finally, list 10 things in my life for which I am truly blessed.

These are the ways I distract myself to happiness, but there are countless others, including meditation, dancing, exercise, learning a musical instrument, knitting, drawing, painting – even golf, I hear.

So, what will you choose to stop yourself from overthinking?

Isabelle Boyd is a former secondary headteacher in Scotland, who recently retired as assistant chief executive at North Lanarkshire Council

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Latest stories

Child working remotely

5 tips to help reduce student screen time

With students and teachers relying on technology more than ever, Matt Seddon offers some screen time-reduction tips learned while on lockdown
Matt Seddon 28 Mar 2020
Coronavirus: How closed schools can create home-learning materials

Coronavirus: 57 free resources for home learning

In a bid to help teachers and parents with the school closures and the coronavirus, there are lots of free resources out there to assist with home learning. We have compiled a list for you
Grainne Hallahan 28 Mar 2020