Are you a supply teacher, teaching assistant or residenital support worker looking for some help and advice? If so, you are the right place. Our blogs offer tips and tricks along with day in the life case studies from real supply teachers, NQTs and cover supervisors. They also give you an insight into what working for Smile is like, the ways which we support local communities and charities and the training and events that we offer.
We asked Jess one of our Supply Teachers who is also a holistic health and nutrition coach to share her tips for coping in the current situation.
Welcome to my new blog! A little bit about myself - I’m Jess, a 29-year-old primary school teacher and holistic health and nutrition coach. I have been in the teaching profession for 8 years and during that time, I have battled with anxiety, stress and depression; causing me to be signed off work 3 times. In 2018, my third time of being signed off from work after having a breakdown, I decided to hand my notice in and leave my permanent teaching position. I had no idea what I was going to do so I turned to supply teaching (as it was the only thing I knew I could do!) This enabled me to gain confidence, earn money and it also gave me the time to study my holistic health and nutrition course. Fast forward to now, still teaching (or I was before all this kicked off!) and in the process of setting up my coaching business, so that I can work with teachers to help them take back control of their health and wellbeing, deal with the stress and pressures that come with the job and create a happy, healthy lifestyle!
The last few weeks have felt surreal! I’d find myself in my own little happy bubble and then realise we were in the middle of a global pandemic! And I’d feel guilty for being happy when there was so much going on right now. Now, it is more important than ever for us to look after ourselves; not only physically, but mentally too! So I’ve created 5 tips to wellness during this time, taken from my own experiences over the past couple of weeks.
1) Be kind to yourself!
As I’m lying there in bed at 2 pm, binge-watching ‘Love is Blind’, I’ve gone on to my phone and I’m seeing all these amazing people doing amazing things on social media, and here I am eating my body weight in crisps. It made me feel rubbish! My inner critic started piping up, “you’re lazy”, “you’re useless”, “you’re not good enough to do that!”
It is so easy to get caught up in these thoughts! On average, scientists reckon we have 70,000 – 90,000 thoughts per day. Of that, 90% of those thoughts are repeated thoughts. Furthermore, 80% of our thoughts are negative. Why? Think back to the beginning of humankind, where it was survival of the fittest. The one that spotted danger the quickest would survive, passing these learned behaviours down to future generations; hence why our brain is trained to think negatively to spot those dangers. So if you think a negative thought, which our brain is wired to do, it’s highly likely you’re going to keep repeating that negative thought over and over again! This is why it is so important to spot them! I find it useful to write them down, this way I can spot if there is a recurring pattern to these thoughts. At this moment in time, you could be worried that you’re not doing enough for the children that you teach or even doing enough for your own children. The important thing to remember here is that you are doing your best for yourself, for your own children if you are a parent, for the children in your class and to not beat yourself up over it. Instead, be kind and compassionate towards yourself, forgive yourself for having these thoughts. At the end of each day, write down something that made you happy, or in turn, what you did to look after yourself that day. This gets your brain thinking of positive things and those are the thoughts that we want to be repeated 90% of the time!
2) Show up for yourself!
It is so easy right now to stay in our scruffs, don’t shower, don’t brush our hair, eat rubbish, drink a lot of alcohol, start smoking, sit on our backsides and watch Netflix all day and night. I’m not saying you can’t do that because there are days when I love doing that! But it’s when it’s starting to happen more often, leading to every day bad habits, that’s when it becomes a problem! This is when you need to give yourself a kick up the backside!
Get up at a reasonable time, go to bed at a reasonable time. I found myself watching rubbish on tv and mindlessly scrolling on Facebook into the early hours, which meant I was waking up later and I was feeling grouchy and tired. So now I’ve set my alarm for 7 am; it’s still early but it’s a lie in from my usual 5:30 am rise, and I make sure I’m in bed for 10 pm so I can read a book and get ready for sleep.
Get dressed. Now, more than ever, it is so important to show up for yourself. To have a shower, to put your make up on, to do your hair, to put on an outfit that makes you feel freaking awesome! It seems strange to do this even when you’re not going out or seeing other people, but actually, you’re doing it for you! Do this for you, to feel good about yourself; it’s not for the benefit of anyone else but YOU!
Write down the things you’d like to do over the next few weeks. It’s easy for us to see this time in isolation as limiting and boring, but we need to embrace this time as an opportunity to do the things we’ve always wanted to do! Write a book, learn a language, get creative, start an exercise routine, begin a meditation practise, whatever! At the same time, if you don’t do the things you’d planned to do, then that’s ok too; remember to be kind to yourself!
Plan to do about 30 minutes of exercise each day. It doesn’t have to be some hardcore cardio sesh every day, in fact, it’s best to mix it up a bit. One day you might want to do a HIIT session, the next you may want to do some yoga. Moving your body releases dopamine and endorphins, aka the happy hormones, making you feel brighter, happier and more positive. So when you do start to feel anxious or worried, go for a jog and you’ll soon start to feel the benefits of those happy hormones. Who doesn’t want to feel like that right now?! Joe Wicks has been doing a 9 am PE session every weekday morning on YouTube, I haven’t got kids but I’ve still been joining in. It’s a fun way of burning off those custard creams and that’s your 30 minutes of exercise done for the day!
3) Limit your digital exposure.
Everywhere you look, everything you hear right now is all about Coronavirus – on the TV, on the radio, on your phones. News of Coronavirus is everywhere! To help ease my anxiety, I’ve had to reduce how much of this I’m exposed to. I now read/watch the news once a day instead of having it on all day. I’ve created playlists of my favourite music so I don’t listen to the radio and have started listening to podcasts.
Social media is a big one! The other day, I woke up at 7 am, thought I’d have a scroll on Instagram while I have my morning coffee. The next thing I knew, it was 9:30 am. I had just sat for a good 2 hours scrolling. What a complete waste of my life! So, I’ve set a time limit on how much I can use social media each day and it goes off when I’ve used my time. This is when you have to try and resist not turning it off when you’re watching Tik Tok! Instead, read a book, play a game, try some meditation or video call your family! I’m sure most new phones have this ability to set time limits on your social media content, I would highly recommend it so you don’t waste your life away scrolling endlessly or even worse, coming up with your own terrible dance moves on Tik Tok!
4) Meal plan.
Hand’s up everyone who has been eating EVERYTHING in their house… ??????????
I’ve seen so many memes about 2020 summer bod is cancelled until next year, and while these are hilarious, they’re actually true! We eat for a whole range of emotions. When we’re happy, we eat. When we’re sad, we eat. When we’re bored, we eat. And at the moment, I’m experiencing all three of these emotions within the space of an hour, so I need to be prepared with healthy snacks for those times.
Plan out your meals and snacks for each day and try to avoid buying loads of processed foods when you do go shopping. This reduces the urge to binge on food that’s no good for us.
We have so much time on our hands right now, why not try a new recipe out of a cookbook that’s been hiding in the cupboard. Get your kids involved in making some healthy snacks. One of my friends has created a tuck shop, where the children are given £1 each day to buy snacks. Each snack has a different value; you could have healthy snacks like fruit and veg costing less than crisps and chocolate, which would be more expensive. This way it limits how much junk the kids are eating and stops you having to keep going shopping!
5) Focus on what you can control!
There is still a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for so many different reasons. Our anxieties come from thinking ahead, for example, “Will I catch the virus?”, “How will I be able to live on 80% of my pay?”, “Will my summer holiday be cancelled?” We can’t control what will happen in this situation, instead, we need to focus on what we can control.
A useful way of doing this is by writing it all down. Write down all of your current anxieties leaving a few lines between each one, then underneath, in a different coloured pen (I love to make use of all my stationery!), write down how you can control it. For example:
Will I catch the virus?
I can control this by washing my hands, cleaning surfaces, looking after myself physically and mentally.
How will I live on 80% of my pay?
I control this by looking at my outgoings and limiting how much I’m spending. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself is this what you really need right now, or can it wait? Do I really need to buy chino’s in the Joules sale? No.
Will my summer holiday be cancelled?
There isn’t really anything I can do to control this situation, but what I can control is my thoughts; acknowledging the thought, accepting that there’s nothing I can do about it until someone makes the decision for me and then let it go.
Remember, you can control what you do each day, so do something that makes you happy and helps calm your anxieties. Try to stop yourself from thinking ahead, about what will or won’t happen. Focus your attention on the now, on the present moment. What is good right now? If you can’t think of anything good right now, what could you do to make it better? You are in control!
if you would like to hear more from Jess here are her contact details.
Facebook page: Jessica Joan Coach Facebook Group: Health Coach for Teachers
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