For educators, the summer is recognised as a time to relax, unwind and put enough ‘health credits’ in the bank to get us through the academic year that follows.
However, the reality can be quite different with many teachers transitioning into full time parents who also try to cram in a whole year’s worth of socialising, DIY and health care.
Here at Teacher Hug Radio, we kicked off the summer by asking what well-being really meant to us as teachers and what simple things we can do in the summer and throughout the year to support our emotional well being and mental health.
First off, we think it’s important to signpost some people that are doing great work to promote teacher wellbeing.
We highly recommend following, connecting with or buying a book from Dr Emma Kell, @thosethatcan; Andrew Cowley, @andrew_cowley23 and Adrian Bethune, @AdrianBethune and of course encourage you to tune in to Lena, @lenabellina on ‘The I Factor in your wellbeing’ show. We hope that in our work at Teacher Hug we help you feel more heard, less isolated and more valued by the teacher community. We hope to host positive conversations that support and enhance your practice and your personal health, inspire your imagination, expand your ambition and raise a smile, share a laugh or feel a virtual hug when you need it.
In addition to that, here are some of our favourite well being practices:
- Share your Lights
Many of us have a stereotypical preconception of good health and poor health and assume that we are able to identify both good and poor well being amongst our friend, families and colleagues.
Share your lights is an initiative that encourages us to share our individual well being traffic lights. What are the unique and individual things you do when your well being is good and how will people know when you are struggling? Which unique behaviours indicate changes in your mental health and how will the people around you be able to decipher your behaviours that will help them understand and support your emotional well being and mental health.
- Switch your focus
Switching your focus sounds like such a simple concept but it can be incredibly challenging in reality. We often hear people talking about focusing on gratitude or searching for opportunities in challenge or looking for light in dark.
The reality is switching your focus is a hard habit to develop and requires consistent effort. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; you can start by switching your focus for just 10 minutes a day and slowly build up that time until your new outlook is permanent and unconscious.
- Get a Mantra
Whether it’s supporting the operations of your household or protecting your own lifestyle, it’s useful to have a mantra; to know what matters, what is necessary and what should be avoided to help you protect your well being.
For example, what is important to you with regards to your friends? Are you a regular communicator? Do you prefer phone calls or texts? Do you expect an immediate response or is two days later your norm?
If you have children, what values are most important to you? Whatever we may hope or aim for, it is unlikely that children will be well behaved all of the time and it can be useful to prioritise and focus the many things that we could do into the things that really matter to us the most. Is it more important for your children to be well mannered or well organised? Would you prefer them to be quiet or considerate? In a world where we can’t have it all, it’s important to know what we want, what is most important to us so that we can share this with others and regulate the relationships that could prove to risk our good emotional health.
- Get Personal
Most of us know that our physical health can impact our mental well being but fewer of us personalise that practice. For example, exercise is different for everyone and whilst some may feel their best when they are running marathons and pumping iron, others might prefer a gentle walk by the river. Our diet, of course, plays an important role in our mental well being but again monitoring our diet doesn’t mean minimising our calorie intake – it’s about understanding which foods make us feel better and which foods make us feel worse. It’s about knowing our own personal limits with regards to alcohol, sleep deprivation and stress. What are your thresholds and what do you do to help monitor and regulate them?
- Be consistent
Whatever you do to help support your well being, the most important thing is to be consistent. It is better to do less and do it well than aim for everything and achieve nothing. Be realistic and recognise that lots of little steps are more effective that one big step – maintain momentum by recognising and celebrating each of the small steps you take towards better mental and physical health.
If you have tips or ideas that you would like to share with the Teacher Hug community then please get in touch, @TeacherHugRadio