I don’t know about you, but in my school we talk a lot about the mental health and well being of our children. And rightly so. It’s one of the most important factors in our students education – if they're upset, stressed, worried or angry, they’re not going to be focused on reading, writing, maths or anything else we try to teach them.
However, what about teacher mental health & wellbeing? Last year, 3,750 teachers were signed off on long-term sick leave due to stress; as the Health and Safety Executive moved teaching to number four in the list of the UK’s most stressful jobs. This was compounded by the latest Teacher Wellbeing Index findings, which reported rising levels of anxiety, depression and irritability amongst the profession.
It's certainly on the agenda for teaching unions and OFSTED in the UK, but has it filtered down through to schools? From the teachers I’ve spoken to, it’s a mixed bag. Some schools have really jumped on it and are putting in place effective strategies to reduce workload and increase staff morale and wellbeing, but others… not so much.
The truth is, there’s no easy way to tackle the issue, but there is something we, as individuals, can do to start the process. If we can begin looking at our own feelings and emotions and track how we’re feeling on certain days, we can spot patterns and triggers. If we know you get stressed out during a certain day of the week, time of the month, or time of the year, we can take extra care of ourselves during those down times. Or we can plan something special to lift our spirits and look forward to.
I find that a great way to track my mood is with a “Year in Pixels” Log – a simple chart with colour-coded emotions. It’s really easy to use - at the end of the day, I take five minutes to think about how I am feeling and if there was anything specific that triggered that feeling or caused a shift in my mood. I just colour the box (and make notes about the triggers if needed). Over time, I begin to see patterns that allow me to adjust or change something in my life to address bad days.
How do you track and manage your stress? Let us know in the comments!
I'm Ruth. I'm a teacher based in Manchester, UK.
I've been teaching for seven years and am currently based in Year Four, but I have also taught in Year One and Reception.
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