4 steps to building your wellbeing as a teacher

Our CEO, Julian Stanley looks at what steps you can take to manage your stress and support your wellbeing.

So how do you feel one week into the new school year? Excited? Energised? Ready for action? Is this year going to be different from previous years? Have you got a new planner that you absolutely, definitely will keep up-to-date?

Perhaps you have found yourself a brand new selection of colour-coordinated files that you will maintain throughout the year, so you know exactly where everything is when you need it?

Or have you spent some of the summer clearing out your in-box and managing your folders, so that this year will be the year that everything is saved exactly where you need it? Have you reorganised your classroom, stapling up page after page of coloured paper, so that it is fresh, clean and student-ready?

But just what have you done to manage yourself? How much have you planned for your own wellbeing for the year to come? Have you prepared yourself for the onslaught of the next three terms in the same way that you have organised your noticeboards, or has your health, and in particular, your mental health, not quite made it on to your new year to-do list?

Yet preparing yourself – your health, your wellbeing and your energy – might be just as important as any prep you have done for your students. Here are four tips to managing your stress and building wellbeing:

Choose your attitude – beware negativity

Read any self-help blog or book and sooner or later, they will touch upon your attitude. As cliché as it may now seem, you may not be able to control the situation you are in or what is being asked of you, but you are able to control how you respond. Make a conscious decision on what you want your attitude to be each day, reminding yourself of it throughout the day.

To this end, avoid negative people or, as one of the people who delivers our training sessions describes them, beware the “dementors”. We have all met these negative people taken straight from Harry Potter: those that somehow suck any positivity from the room as soon as they enter. Often, we might be feeling positive or excited about our day, but as soon as we come into contact with one of these people, they make us focus on the negative, and suddenly our positivity is gone. Avoid these people at all costs.

Keep a sense of control

One of the key causes for stress or anxiety can be the feeling of a lack of control, particularly when it feels like tasks, responsibilities or activities are being imposed upon you.

In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests that the challenges and opportunities we face can be split into two circles. The circle of concern – those things that we have no control over – and the circle of influence – those things that we do have control over. Covey argues that reacting to issues in the circle of concern is not productive and we should focus our efforts on those issues that we can have an impact on. This may allow you not only to be more productive, but could reduce stress and anxiety too.

Balance your energies

As we all know, the school year is a marathon not a sprint. Hopefully, we all feel refreshed and recharged after the holidays, but how can you maintain this feeling? You need to balance your energy and you can do this by paying attention to your physical needs: nutrition, exercise, rest and sleep.

Prioritise and avoid procrastinations

According to YouGov research commissioned by Ratesetter, we spend nearly four hours a day putting off tasks we know we should be doing. The research showed that on average we spend 218 minutes a day procrastinating, which equates to a loss of 55 days a year. Just imagine what you could do with another 55 days?

But how can you stop procrastinating, particularly when it is something you do not want to do. Mark Twain said: “If you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

One of the easiest ways to stop your procrastinating is to get into the habit of doing the task you least want to do first or in other words “eat the frog first”. This will not only mean that you will not waste part of your day worrying about something you do not want to do, but is also likely to give you a huge sense of achievement for getting the task out of the way.

How we can help

  • Help for individuals  
    Sometimes work (or just life) can be tough. A challenging student, an Ofsted inspection, personal financial worries; there are many stresses on those who work in education. That’s why we offer free, confidential help and support, no matter what your problem.
  • Help for organisations 
    Working in education is demanding so we’ve designed a set of services to help you check how your teams are coping, troubleshoot problems and boost everyone’s wellbeing.