Creating positivity in challenging environments

Just weeks into the new school year, a survey by Tes revealed that almost half of teachers felt exhausted, whilst 15% reported feeling “physically and mentally on the brink”[1]. Amongst reassuring parents and students, social distancing measures and concerns around coronavirus testing, education professionals are facing some of the greatest strains and responsibilities in their careers yet.

We understand that it’s a challenging and stressful time for many of you at the moment and are here to provide you with support. Here are some tips for your well-being that you might find useful.

Be compassionate to yourself

Times of uncertainty and stress tends to bring out our compassion for one other, with messages of positivity and kindness being shared everywhere from shop and classroom windows to across social media. However, we often forget to extend this compassion to ourselves and instead can become frustrated or overwhelmed when we feel we aren’t doing enough.

Try to avoid putting that extra pressure on yourself and remember that you’re already doing your best. Don’t feel put out if that means you haven’t got the energy to join that virtual exercise class in the evening. Taking time to yourself and to rest is important to allow your body to recharge.

Strengthen your support network

Whilst we’d always advocate for the benefits of a mentoring relationship, now is a vital time to find mutual support amongst friends and colleagues. A professional mentor can guide and support you when you feel stuck and provide an objective perspective on things that might help you think differently. With a mentor, you can overcome challenges with the knowledge that they have been through similar situations before.

On the other hand, if you consider yourself a seasoned school leader, why not discover the benefits of mentoring someone else? There is evidence to show that helping others and volunteering can bring positivity and happiness, plus you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of knowing how your advice and experiences have helped others.

Have a look at NAHT’s mentoring platform if you’re interested in getting started.

Maintain a consistent sleeping pattern

Getting enough sleep is also key for ensuring you recuperate properly overnight and maintain your body’s immune system, so trying to stick to a regular sleeping pattern is important. Of course, getting a good night’s sleep can be hard if you’re struggling with stress or anxiety, whether you find it difficult to drift off, shut off your thoughts or wake regularly.

How often do you find yourself aimlessly scrolling your phone or tablet, whilst doing something else? A couple of hours before you go to sleep, start your wind down by trying to eliminate distracting technology from your routine and perhaps focus on something more relaxing to help you feel tired, like reading a book or listening to a podcast. The Headspace and Calm apps are great for a range of free wind down meditations, well-being techniques and sleep music.

Savour small positives

It can be all too easy amongst the stresses of daily life and work to lose sight of small things that bring positivity to your life. Journaling is a great way of noting these occurrences down so that you can reflect on them another time and feel gratitude – in a world where our bodies are wired to react to stressful or threatening situations, learning to take some time out to reflect on positivity will make it easier to do so more often and may even help you feel more aware of your reactions.

Try keeping a notepad by your desk so that you can jot things down as they happen or come to you, or find five minutes during a break to reflect on your day.

If you’d like to find out more about how NAHT membership can support you during difficult times, read some of our key benefits here.

Remember, if you are struggling, there is always someone you can talk to. The Education Support helpline is free and available at any time of day or night.