2020 has been tough on us all, with every aspect of our lives being turned upside down. The great news is that the vaccine is being distributed! However, it will still be many months before life may return to normal. Currently many of us are finding it difficult and feel the toll on our mental health. Whether you have suffered from anxiety before, or the pandemic has caused it to happen, it has never been so important to look after yourself.
Teachers among others have had it particularly tough, with many having to work throughout the pandemic, either taking themselves out of the house, on public transport to teach children physically or doing virtual lessons from home. Now that schools are back and they are facing the ever-present risk and disruption of COVID-19 on a daily basis, it is hardly surprising that many of us are struggling. Here are a few tips on how to improve your mental well-being as a teacher during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Keep to a routine
The government advice might change abruptly with little time to adjust. It is important that whatever your environment is, that you set your routine and structure around you. Stick to what you can control. It will help you stay focussed. Be ready to change that routine if necessary and set up a new one.
Speak with your pupils, emphasise the importance of a set routine and be ready to remind them of the rules when needed. Children work best with a solid structure. When you get home, set yourself clear boundaries between work and relaxation. Once you’ve decided that work time has ended, it is your time and you are no longer a teacher.
Stay in touch with your colleagues, friends and family
Even though you have to maintain a social distance, you can still maintain social connections. Find the right support group, family member and friend with whom you can share your concerns or worries. At work, focus on the people who energise you. If you feel that trying to stay in touch with everyone is too much for you, start with one person who can become your work buddy. Staying social and up to date with your work colleagues will make you more productive and will also improve your mental health. If you have something that is worrying you, be sure to talk about it. Once at home, choose to video chat instead of calling friends and family members. It is the best alternative to face-to-face interaction.
Take time out for yourself
Life is busy, and if you are juggling both work and home life, you can feel you have no time for yourself. Try and fix this by taking out some time for you, every day. No matter if it is ten minutes where you go for a walk, listen to music, work on your puzzle, or an hour to have a bath or to be creative, find ways to relax. Take time to breathe. Meditation and yoga are great to add to your daily routine to help your mental well-being. They are good for both clearing your mind and managing the feelings of stress.
Eat healthily and exercise
When we are stressed, it is all too easy to reach for junk food and to become a coach potato, yet this can be detrimental for your mental well-being. While the occasional sweet treat is fine, a sudden sugar rush can cause our happiness to spike, then drop just as quickly and leave us feeling worse than before. Lack of exercise can make you feel sluggish and down. If you are not a gym enthusiast or the sporty type, a brisk walk can do you good, just enough to get your heart pumping. For home exercise, there are lots of videos you can follow on YouTube.
Plan your meals with healthy fruit and vegetables. Ask yourself, what do I eat in the day that is raw? Raw food is packed with nutrients and vitamins which aid your mental well-being. Drink plenty of water and reduce or restrict drinking alcohol (which is a depressant) to just a few glasses at the weekend.
Get a good night’s sleep
Your mind will feel a lot clearer and you can make better decisions when you have had a good night’s sleep. Try to get at least eight hours a night. If you have trouble sleeping due to anxiety, there are things you can do to aid you before going to bed. Whatever you do, don’t read the news before bed. It’s usually bad news! And a great contributor to anxiety! Leave it till the next morning. Turn off your phone and any screens for at least an hour before bed and do something like reading a book instead. Ensure you have a relaxing bedroom space too, with comfortable bedding, low lighting and that it is a space you feel calm and relaxed in.