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The Teachers Guide to Mental Health.
Introduction by TeacherOfSci.
This post was written for me by my blogger friend Danielle at mybloomingbrain.com. She tackles head on the problem of not looking after your mental health and gives some tips to help you maintain yours. I’ll catch you at the end of the post to give my thoughts. Now, over to Danielle.
Are you taking care of your mental health?
Although there is more discussion and information available about mental health in the media than ever before, mental health is very much still a taboo subject and we still have some way to go in terms of our acknowledgement and openness about it…rather than it being the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.
Truth be had, we all have mental health in the same way that we all have physical health and taking care of it is as important to your overall well-being.
What is mental health?
Mental health is defined by mentalhealth.gov as follows;
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
I have highlighted the words emotional and social well-being because these areas are often overlooked and many people tend to think of the more extreme cases of mental health related to the psychological side of things.
As a teacher your ability to cope well with stress is paramount. Therefore prioritising self-care and your mental well-being is of importance for you to be the best version of you, which will inadvertently have a knock-on effect on you being the amazing teacher that you are!
At this point, I’d like you to stop and pause…and think about how you take care of your own mental health and overall well-being.
There are so many ways that you can maintain and improve your own mental well-being, there is no one perfect way to do this. We are all wired differently and are motivated by different things, so I’d say find what works best for you.
To provide you with some inspiration I have listed some ways that I take care of my own mental health below:
- Music – I love to listen to my favourite music. I have a ‘happy playlist’ that I like to listen to which helps to lift my mood, put a spring in my step and also help improve my productivity.
- Mediation and mindfulness – I love to meditate, I admit that I don’t do it as often as I should, but when I do the benefits are fantastic. For anyone new to meditation I’d suggest following guided meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm. You can do it for just 10 minutes and will instantly feel the benefits. Also try to be more mindful in the activities that you’re doing such as when you go for a walk when talking to your family and friends or having a cup of tea. Focus on the task at hand and block out any distractions such as your phone, TV etc.
- Yoga – Yoga also helps me to be mindful/living in the present moment. It helps me to focus on my breathing and the pose that I am doing at the time. It helps me to slow down and focus both physically, mentally and emotionally. I find it to be the perfect way to de-stress.
- Getting outdoors and exposure to vitamin D – There is just something about being at one with nature that does it for me, the sound of the birds, running waterfalls, the smell of the flowers, the sound of the bees. It helps me too slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. Also, there is so much greenery in nature and it has been scientifically proven that the colour green has a positive and relaxing impact on the brain. Plus we all know how being out in the sunshine lifts our spirits, especially here in the UK where we don’t get a lot of sunny days. You just have to look around at the smiles on people’s faces to see the positive impact that it has!
- Socialising – I’m very much a people person and I naturally bounce off the energy of others so I find that when I’m feeling particularly stressed that I benefit from socialising with family and friends and meeting new people. We only need to look to other parts of the world such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean to see the benefits of living a social/family orientated life and the positive impact it has on both mental health and longevity of life.
- New experiences,in particular travel – Getting out there and trying something new is a great way to boost both confidence and self-esteem. For me, I love to travel as it exposes me to new cultures, environments, people and experiences which personally helps me to live a more fulfilling and enriched life.
So there’s some food for thought! I hope I have given you a good taster so that you can make a start on finding simple ways to maintain your mental health and to manage stress. For further inspiration on how to improve the well-being of both yourself and your colleagues at work visit the Mind website.
I know it can seem like a big ask when you’re already struggling for time especially during busy periods such as exam time and when you’re having to take work home in the evenings.
So I’d advise to start off small, honestly, you won’t regret it! Start off by setting aside 10 minutes a day dedicated to your personal well-being, maybe do it first thing in the morning or before you go to bed or maybe on your lunch break (try to do it at the same of day to make it habitual) and build on it as and when – you will quickly begin to notice the benefits!
Also, have a think of a typical day and how you can slightly change some of the things you do rather than making radical changes that can often seem overwhelming. For example on a sunny day go and eat your lunch outside rather at your desk, or go for a 10-minute walk on your lunch break. It really can be that easy, good luck!
To find out more about the coping strategies I used to manage stress and maintain my mental health when recovering from a life threatening illness visit mybloomingbrain.com
Concluding Comments from TeacherOfSci.
Thank you Danielle. Such great advice. I use some of these tactics daily. Like most of us, I have to look after my mental health all the time. I recognise the signs of when I’m feeling the grey cloud building and have worked out methods that halt it in its tracks. Being immersed in water is the most effective tactic I use, It’s like hitting the reset button. Whether it’s the shower, a bath, swimming pool or best of all the ocean; it helps bring me out of it.
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