As a teacher, you spend most of your time looking after other people, from stressed-out students to concerned parents. Yet more often than not, your own mental wellbeing takes a back seat, leaving you at risk of stress, anxiety, and even burnout.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers across Australia faced the additional challenge of supporting students and their families through an incredibly difficult year, placing yet more stress on our amazingly resilient teaching community.
As a preferred provider for Teacher’s Health and Teachers Union Health (TUH), National Dental Care Group is keen to acknowledge the phenomenal job that our teachers do. As teachers get ready to head back to the classroom after the Summer holidays, we’re shining a light on the importance of self-care for teachers, with some tips on how to maintain positive mental health during these challenging times.
Set aside dedicated time for self-care activities
You’re used to taking care of your students’ needs - but how often do you prioritise your own wellbeing and make time to caring for yourself? As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so carving out time each day for self-care is essential for keeping your mind and body healthy and productive.
Whether it’s setting aside time for a yoga class, allocating ten minutes each morning to meditate, or spending an hour indulging in your favourite hobby, make a point of making the time for self-care.
Self-care tip: If you find yourself constantly pushing self-care down your to-do list, consider scheduling time in your diary for self-care activities and treat them as you would any other important task (which is exactly what they are!).
Recognise the signs of burnout
Burnout is the term used to describe the response to prolonged or excessive workplace stress, generally leading to symptoms including fatigue, overwhelm, boredom, depression, anxiety, stress, apathy and frustration.
If you’re experiencing burnout or are approaching this stage, you may feel irritable or angry, have little desire to attend social gatherings, experience chronic fatigue or exhaustion, find your standard of work is slipping, and notice a range of physical symptoms such as insomnia, heart palpitations or headaches.
Self-care tip: As burnout can significantly impact both your mental health and your ability to perform your job, it’s important to address the problem as soon as you become aware of it. Talk to your GP about ways to manage the mental and physical symptoms of burnout.
Set professional boundaries
Boundaries are one of the most important aspects of maintaining your wellbeing and enjoying a balanced, fulfilling life. Yet it can be all too easy to say yes to those urgent work requests or inconvenient schedule changes without considering the impact this will have on your work-life balance.
Creating and maintaining boundaries in the workplace can help you avoid becoming overwhelmed and overworked, as well as ensuring you have time to focus on yourself, your family, your social life, and all the other important things that exist outside of work.
Self-care tip: If your mobile phone is constantly abuzz with work-related messages, switch off notifications when you’re engaging in non-work activities - such as family mealtimes or over the weekend - rather than simply trying to ignore them.
Find out what self-care looks like for you
Self-care isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of pursuit - what works for one person won’t work for another and vice versa. That’s why it’s important to explore different types of self-care activities so you can discover what helps you feel calm, relaxed and present.
Think about the activities that make you lose track of time and feel totally immersed in what you’re doing. This could be a creative hobby such as painting or playing an instrument, an activity such as walking or dancing, or simply spending time in nature. Whatever it is, do more of what makes you happy!
Self-care tip: If you’re struggling to unwind and take your mind off work, why not try an activity you’ve never done before? Practising a new skill - such as learning a language or trying your hand at pottery - can help us to switch off from our worries as we focus our attention on doing something completely different.
Self-care is about prioritising your mental and physical health so you can be the best version of yourself. At National Dental Care Group, we can help with keeping your oral health in tip-top condition, so you have one less thing to worry about. Book an appointment online today and enjoy the benefits of a healthy smile.