The most unfortunate reality of the pandemic is the sharp rise in the emotional well-being issues that is being experienced by the educators. A teacher’s job has become all the more emotionally draining with the sudden pivot to distant learning, struggles to engage students remotely and dealing with the fears of contracting the virus. Their stress and anxiety levels have soared and their morale has plummeted, a flammable combination that could burn them out. It’s more important than ever to support educators by making mental well-being and self-care a priority for them. Being mindful towards practising self-care will help prevent a burn out, keep them emotionally healthy, and will facilitate in remaining involved in their lives in the ways that bring us joy.
Intrude anxiety with a gratitude practice
Always inculcate the practise of writing down the things for which you feel grateful for. Although these are tough times for everyone, following a thankfulness practice will remind you of the little things that encourage you to be an educator. Appreciation can take you out of a space of unconstructiveness and quickly transport you towards moments of clarity that will motivate you. When we fail to practise gratitude, we tend to face greater emotional reactions, and ultimately become fast-tracked towards a burn-out.
Social distancing does not imply emotional distancing
An important aspect of self-care is to reflect on and share how you feel emotionally. There’s no handbook on how to steer through a pandemic successfully, and so it is normal to experience a range of emotions. When negative emotions ascend, try to retort, instead of reacting. Take time to collect your thoughts and don’t let feelings build up and go unaddressed. Maintain a journal and write down what you want to say. Make a note of what happened, what are your observations, how you have been feeling and what you might need moving forward. Addressing a conflict situation honestly can make us more authentic educators, allowing us to be more present with our students and colleagues.
Find ways to connect with yourself
Untighten your jaws, drop your shoulders, take a break from your screens and connect with yourself. Educators have been spending the majority of their time checking on the students social-emotional health, while sometimes side-lining their own mental health. Find ways to stay in touch with yourself by designating deliberate screen breaks, going for a walk, a run or stretch. Give yourself the consent to line up some ‘me’ time to facilitate you in supporting others more fully.
Set clear boundaries
Learn to strike a balance between leading in your classroom and piloting life outside the classroom, in your household, and in other life situations. Set boundaries for when you are available, and make it clear what is the best way for students to connect with you if they need you.
Connect with other teachers
Staying socially linked is crucial right now. Working remotely and being physically separated from other teachers can add to your anxiety. Make an effort to stay in touch with your colleagues whom you used to engage with every day at physical school.
(The writer is a mental and emotional well-being coach and the Founder of Let Us Talk)