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In light of the recent school closures and government advice on social distancing, it’s apparent that we are all feeling a little out of sorts. Which is why we asked Suneta Bagri, former teacher and headteacher turned Health & Wellbeing Champion in Schools and Founder of the Every Teacher Matters Project to offer some suggestions on things that you can do to improve your mental health and wellbeing.
Teachers, so, we’ve all been hit with the news that schools are closing due to coronavirus. Our well-being and mental health are critical to getting us through this period of uncertainty and unknown territory. Connection with others is essential to provide us with a feeling of being grounded right now to help us get through.
Whatever your personal situation is, the importance of feeling connected right now with those that are important to you is of paramount importance to your well-being.
You may be…
A teacher who is deeply concerned for the welfare of your students and feels angry at the situation
A senior leader who is still working and keeping your school organisation going but remains concerned about the contact you are having
A leader who is concerned about the well-being of self and the rest of the staff
A teacher who enjoys their work and views work as a positive distraction from “stuff” in your own life. You don’t know what you will do now?
A teacher who lives on their own
A supply teacher and although you understand, the news about schools closing, is simply devastating, you are seriously concerned about the financial impacts this is going to have for you
You are glad to have some time off to focus on yourself and your family
Whatever your situation or circumstances. Make it your number one priority to ensure connection. This can be achieved in many different ways.
Firstly, my suggestion would be to connect with yourself. This can be done in a variety of different ways. Here are a few recommendations…
Write in a Journal and capture how you are feeling
Ask curious questions about yourself at the beginning of each day. These questions must uplift your energy and not be negative. For example, what’s going to make me feel good today? What do I want to achieve today? What foods shall I eat that I know are good for me?
Plan your day! Just like you would do when you are at school with your students.
Give your day a structure and routine.
Keep checking in with yourself throughout the day and ask – how am I feeling? How am I doing?
Take walks in the park and connect with nature as much as possible
Take part in meditation, yoga and mindfulness activities. Or just take time to do breathing and relaxation.
Secondly, connect with others. We are so lucky to have technology at our fingertips to make this so easy to do. Here are some recommendations…
Make a list of all the people that you love and make you feel good. This is really important. You will be in contact with different people for different reasons. Some will be purely out of obligation, others will be because you have a duty of care towards them and others will be because they are good for your wellbeing
Be clear about the above list and prioritise who you will call/message/facetime and how often. You could use the “must/should/could’ framework!
Take control of the communication and schedule in time for it, so that you are not a slave to your phone every time it pings!
To help with the above point, differentiate (if you can) between using your phone for social communication and your computer/iPad for work or internet access
Join social groups on Facebook which interest you, like Operation Smile. You could be part of a community or tribe which supports you right now. This sense of belonging is critical to your well-being during this time, particularly if you live on your own.
Join webinars for learning new skills - now is definitely the right time!
Write notes to your neighbours and let them know they can call upon you for help. Feeling close to those who are in closest proximity to you, will really help provide comfort.
Set up a new WhatsApp group with those that you know will understand your unique position and will uplift you. Especially work colleagues that you have commonalities with, that are going through this phase with you.
By nature, we are social animals and we all need connection. Isolation and loneliness are precursors to depression and anxiety. When we feel connected, we feel a sense of belonging, when we have the right emotional support around us we can in turn offer, love, respect and trust. These are the building blocks for our well-being. Paying attention to our emotional mental health will ward off anxiety, depression and allay fears that we may have. It will help you to stay in control of the situation rather than the situation in control of you.
Suneta is currently offering free coaching sessions so if you work within a school, are a school leader or teacher who needs some extra support during this difficult time, then get in touch. You can also contact her directly on the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Lovatt - 2020-03-24
Many thanks for that blog, it really made me reflect on whether I am making the best use of my time whilst being off. It’s good news - I am a list and tick ✅ off type person who loves exercise, nevertheless a bit of mindfulness may improve my day even further. Thanks again