Teaching is not the easiest career to work in, but the people that do it choose it because they want to help the next generation of innovators and scholars. With that, their mental health usually takes a back seat when educating their students.
Teaching is not the easiest career to work in, but the people that do it choose it because they want to help the next generation of innovators and scholars. With that, their mental health usually takes a back seat when educating their students. In a conducted study done in 2017, 61 percent of teachers said their jobs were “always or often” stressful, and 58 percent said they had “poor mental health due to stress levels”, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind. The impact it had on schools and the education system has only added more stress to teachers due to online teaching, and personal safety for educators while teaching in person.
Researchers found in another 2022 survey study, that nearly three-quarters of teachers, and 85 percent of principals, said they were experiencing “frequent job-related stress”. Now more than ever, teachers should focus on their mental health to not only help themselves but to keep their stability upbeat in school for student academic achievements. Here are five ways teachers and educators can improve their mental health and conquer the stress that may come with their jobs.
Set Personal Boundaries
Setting personal boundaries is one of the best ways to put your mental health first. By letting others know what they are, it can truly help your mental health if it is struggling. One way to set personal boundaries is by setting work hours for yourself. Don’t be available 24/7, but set a time for when students and parents can reach out to you and what times you will not be available afterward. Creating an automated response message for emails sent after working hours is another great way to let others know you are currently not available and will respond to them when you can. Doing this will separate your work and personal life, which is beneficial for your mental health and gives you the boundaries that you need to maintain a healthy mindset flow.
Staying in one place all the time is not the best for your mental health, and teachers may be in one room all day due to the area being their primary teaching zone. Educators can walk around when teaching, but doing so repeatedly in the same room all day may feel restricting. An ideal suggestion would be for teachers to do something they love during lunch breaks that align with their allocated set of time for themselves. It is also a good idea to go outside and take a walk around the schoolyard to get fresh air if possible. Giving yourself time to walk around outside of the classroom helps you feel more open and free. Being able to experience a different scenery will be a beneficial factor in improving mental health overall.
Maintain Self Care
Self-care is an important activity to keep up with, no matter when you complete it. Staying true to it can have a very big benefit to your mental health overall. It may be hard for teachers to uphold their self-care routines, but it must be done for the sake of continuing to have a healthy mental mind-space. Set a recurring time to go to bed at night so you get at least eight hours of sleep, and pre-select your outfit and lunch the night before so you do not have to rush in the morning when getting your day situated. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is a great way to keep your mind at peace. Journaling, meditating, and staying organized with your thoughts can also help you keep a calm headspace. Self-care is an important activity that you should continue to do regularly, and while it may be difficult to put into your schedule sometimes, it is essential to keep your inner happiness a high priority.
Set Reasonable Goals
As an educator, you need to improve your practices by reflecting on your teaching and setting reasonable goals. This is a key way to keep your schedule open and not let it get too cluttered.
To help you keep on track, tell your colleagues about your goals. They may have tips, words of encouragement, or questions to help you think further about your goal. Not having task-after-task due is a great way for you to keep your schedule light and not too restricting and insufferable.
It’s important to space out assignments that are due because it is not only beneficial to students but also for teachers. It allows both parties to have a healthy work-life balance without being burnt out from being overworked.
Utilize Sick Days
Your sick days do not always need to be used for when you are gravely ill, but they can also be for when you are mentally down. Mental health is just as important as physical health. While teachers only have a set amount of sick days to use, they should be used if you wake up and are not feeling mentally strong for the day. It is okay to take a day off and recharge after a stressful month, week, or even day. Your mental health is important, and if you are not feeling mentally fit at the beginning of your day, you may not be the most successful during the rest of it. Being off and recharging for the current day will help improve your performance and the students’ performance the following day. It is no secret that mental health after the pandemic has declined for many, especially for educators and teachers. The United States government has also proposed a federal bill that calls for more support on the mental health of teachers, educators, principals, and school staff members. The bill currently has bipartisan support from both major political parties. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and it should be monitored and treated the same way. Once you do what you need to improve your mental health, then you will start feeling the impacts of a brighter tomorrow for your students.