The easy way

7th September 2007 at 01:00
Avoid the back-to-work blues by making the most of your free time and spare energy now. It will ease you into the new school year, says Steven Hastings

New faces and new routines. It's all change. A new job? No, just the start of another school year. And it can leave even experienced teachers feeling like beginners.

But it's not all bad news. Your energy is running high and the marking pile is low. Good planning now can set you up for the rest of term. It's the small things that will make a difference as the nights draw in: sort household bills, get the car serviced, fill the freezer.

Life coach Clare Evans advises taking the long view. "It's the perfect time to reflect and decide what needs changing. It's a chance to set clear work goals, so you don't just drift through another year."

Experts suggest that teachers suffer back-to-work blues worse than most: the downside of the long holiday is that it's tougher to get back in the groove. So don't be hard on yourself. And don't get depressed if you find yourself creeping up to bed at 9pm. You may need an extra hour's sleep until you adjust to the work routine.

"From the first day it's important to eat well and get enough sleep and exercise. Then, when you get a stressful week, you'll be better able to cope," says Clare.

Supply agencies say that sickness levels peak in November as the strain begins to tell. A bit of care now pays dividends later. Make sure exercise doesn't get squeezed out, and don't be tempted by the takeaways.

Finally, don't forget your voice. You won't have been using it in the same way over the summer and the vocal muscles may have weakened. So don't push it.

Above all, stay positive. Plan a treat for those dark November days a smart pair of shoes might put a spring in your step; a weekend away is even better. It gives you something to look forward to and breaks up the long term.

Remember, after Christmas, it's downhill all the way to July

Pace yourself

Set three goals for this year make sure they're achievable.

Get organised. The term will only get more hectic from now on.

Learn new timetables and names quickly. This will help to reduce stress.

Keep eating the fruit and veg; cut back on alcohol.

Warm your voice up before school and drink water throughout the day.

Don't depress yourself with the thought of a 16-week term: put a treat in your diary every couple of weeks to break things up.

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