7 ways to look after your teacher wellbeing
Kemi Oluyede, founder of the Young Black Teacher's Network, talks about how teachers can maintain their wellbeing.
We all know how stressful teaching can be and I don’t necessarily mean standing in front of a class and delivering your lessons. Most of our work takes place outside of the classroom and it can take a physical, mental and emotional toll on us, especially this time of year where the weather is cold and miserable, but #wemove.
The main reasons why teachers call in sick are due to stress and mental health issues. A study on 800,000 teachers in Germany found that mental and psychosomatic diseases are more common in teachers than non-teachers, so I’ll be covering ways to put your well-being first, because the education sector needs you, but it needs you to be healthy and that should be your number one priority:
- Plan ahead - I mean everything. Stay organised by keeping a diary (if you’re old fashioned like me) or use Google / iCloud Calendar. Know what you’re doing and when you’re doing it, to avoid double booking and spreading yourself too thin
- Champion companion - Shout out to Action Jackson on this one. Some of us need someone to be accountable to. Not a ‘yes person’, but someone who will be honest with you because they want the best for you. That could be a colleague, friend or family member, but a champion companion is there to help.
- No work emails after 5pm (6pm if you’re pushing it) - you have to draw the line somewhere or you’ll always be in work mode and that’s not healthy for your own sake. Take time to rest.
- ‘(Your name here) Day’- One day a week where you do something fun that you want to do. What are your hobbies, passions and interests outside of your career as a teacher? Invest time in whatever it is that makes you happy. Or if you just want to disconnect from the outside world, do that and relax. After all, it’s your day.
- Exercise and eat healthy meals - I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s skipped a few gym sessions and some meals here and there because I’ve been consumed with work. Make sure you’re taking care of your body. Exercise reduces stress and healthy balanced meals help to reduce the risk of physical health problems
- Express yourself - Some people confide in others and some prefer to just write it down in a journal. Neither is right or wrong, you have to do what’s best for you. That doesn’t mean gossip with other members of staff, because that can get you into situations you don’t want to be in. But find a way to let it out and express yourself rather than bottling it all in.
- Attend a YBTN (Young Black Teachers Network) or other network event - To help fellow young black teachers, we put on a range of events; whether you want to progress in your career, need support and advice, network and meet new people or you just want to get things off your chest, we’re here for you. Other organisations run events for teachers too such as; BAMEed, SLTNetwork, NEU and Diverse Educators just to name a few. So, join in with a community, it’ll help you more than you think.
Remember it’s perfectly okay to be selfish when it comes to your wellbeing. As a teacher, we tend to put our needs after the needs of others, but we must draw the line somewhere for our own good.