13 Mental Health Tips for Teachers (for Self-Care and Growth)
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The mental health of teachers isn’t a regular part of our conversations. In fact, the topic hardly gets the attention it deserves.
After the outbreak of COVID-19, it wasn’t just the students and parents at scramble, trying to figure things out. Teachers were at the same end, tasked to deliver a consistent (and quality) learning experience to students and adapt to the digital changes that weren’t confusing and inconvenient for many.
Without the right tools and infrastructure, teaching students online isn’t easy. But that’s what many Indian teachers at the private schools were facing.
Unsurprisingly, the long hours, the challenges of online education, and family requirements took a toll on many, highlighting the topic of the mental health of teachers in India.
If you’re a teacher and have been struggling with mental health issues, follow these 13 tips for better self-care and growth:
1. Stay organized
This is the most fundamental part of the process.
There have been numerous studies done that underline how being disorganized can affect your mental health. When you’re surrounded by clutter, it clutters your mind as well, affecting the clarity of your thoughts. You start feeling overwhelmed.
So, whether it’s your home, desk, or wherever you are, keep the space organized. Moreover, keep your schedule organized.
Keep yourself out of the clutter, and it will improve your mental health.
2. Have realistic deadlines
Yes, there are too many things to do. Teach students, answer questions, check homework, set tests, and so much more. The responsibilities of teachers at private schools are never-ending.
However, it’s important not to set unrealistic deadlines for yourself just because there’s a lot to do.
Because, one, many times you will fail to meet these deadlines.
Second, rushing through the tasks will hurt your efficiency. It will also trigger stress and anxiety.
Third, failing to meet deadlines may even make you feel sad, which will worsen your anxiety and lead to other mental health problems.
So, be perceptive of the kind of deadlines you’re setting for yourself. Have more room; give yourself more time.
3. Learn to say “no”
In general, this is one of the most difficult tasks for many employees.
People refuse to say “no” to tasks being handed over to them even when their schedule is completely packed. One of the reasons for this is they fear how this may make them look in front of others.
Contrarily, taking a stand for your well-being and other priorities is a trait of strong-willed individuals. So, if you’re not already good at it, start practicing.
When you’re already drowning in work and someone gives you extra tasks, be polite and tell them “no”. Let them know why you can’t take up this task.
This doesn’t mean you refuse anything and everything that comes your way. The key here is to understand what’s beyond the threshold and may affect your wellbeing, including mental health. You want to say “no” to them.
4. Set aside “me” time
You’re more than a teacher. You have a personal life as well.
It’s easy to let your work-related stress seep into your personal life.
The key to preventing this is first realizing that your work is affecting your personal life. Past that, it’s crucial to set strict boundaries in terms of the number of hours you have to work and the kind of work-related responsibilities you have to shoulder.
Thereon, make space for some “me time” where you do what you love or enjoy. Rest, meditate, watch some movies, spend time with family, talk to friends, more… Whatever makes you feel better and happier, do that in your “me time”.
It will help you rejuvenate and, most importantly, prevent burnout.
5. Be more social (with the right people)
Socializing is good for mental health.
When you interact with others, it enhances the feeling of well-being. It also decreases the symptoms of depression.
Socializing with others can significantly boost your mood.
However, the key here is to socialize with the right people. If you’re mingling with negative people who thrive in a toxic environment, it’s going to make your mental health problems worse.
So, identify individuals in your circle (peers or colleagues, friends) who have a positive outlook and presence. Interact with them more. Keep away from negative people at all costs.
6. Invest in your physical health
Our psychology is greatly affected by our physiology. There’s a reason why physically healthy people are also the happiest.
So, if you’re not in good physical health, the effects of it will hurt your mental health as well.
Sadly, many teachers in India do not focus sufficiently on their physical health. Are you one of them?
Start working out every day. Give your body the physical activity it needs for proper nourishment. For example, make it a habit to go on a walk or run every morning.
Light muscle stretching at home can take you a long way.
Remember, you don’t have to spend hours every week in intense workout sessions. Basic exercises done daily for half an hour are sufficient to begin with.
Similarly, your physical health is just as much about the kind of foods you eat. So, audit your means; are you eating too many unhealthy items? If yes, replace them by their healthier alternatives. Fried foods, pastries, processed meat, high-fat items are bad for your mental health. On the other hand, whole grains, cold-water seafood, berries, nuts, and more foster better mental health. In all, give your diet a hard look and take measures to improve it.
7. Think ‘mental health’
A common theme among teachers who struggle with mental health problems is that many of them lack awareness of this topic. They don’t even think about them in context to mental health.
For instance, if they are stressed, they don’t take it seriously. Instead, they treat it as a fleeting problem that will automatically be fixed tomorrow. (And guess what, it doesn’t get fixed “tomorrow”.)
When you start thinking about your mental health, it is only then will you be able to identify your mental health problems. And unless you get there, you will never take definite steps to fix those problems.
So, start focusing more on your mental health. Get more aware of how you’re feeling and on this subject at large. You can even opt for relevant programs or mental health training for teachers. You feeling stress and anxiety isn’t common or “okay”.
8. Improve your skills
Improving yourself professionally can play a lever in managing your mental health problems. And this happens in several ways.
When you’re good at something, and you’re constantly improving, it reflects positively on your self-esteem and confidence. This boosts your mental health.
Subsequently, when you’re constantly getting better, you will discover many new and rewarding career opportunities (like promotions and job offers from your dream schools). This will further enhance your mental well-being.
So, always prioritize up-skilling. Improve yourself as a teacher. Sign up for certification programs. Gain experience in different ways. This is one of the most underrated but highly effective mental health tips for teachers.
9. Is it time to change job?
This is a difficult question to ask. Acting on it is even more difficult. The idea of leaving a comfortable job and looking for newer opportunities can feel uncertain and scary.
However, you must realize that if your current job isn’t making you happy, if it is hurting your mental health, it might be time to leave.
So, do ask this question on a regular basis. If the answer is “yes” more than a few times, you should leave. It’s important for your well-being.
10. Seek help from a specialist
A lot of Indians, let alone the teachers, do not even consider this. Don’t be one of them!
If you’re not in good mental health, if things aren’t going well for you mentally, seek professional help. Reach out to a therapist or clinical psychologist. They can help diagnose the problem and outline a treatment plan to make you feel better.
An intervention from a professional can be the biggest difference-maker for your mental health.
11. Get better at time management
When you’re not good at managing time, you will end up piling a lot of unfinished tasks. You will pile a lot of stress. While you may seem busy, your productivity will be poor.
Collectively, all these will contribute towards negative mental health.
So, get better at managing your time. Learn how to be more efficient. Try to do more things in less time. Focus on you being productive and not busy.
Basic time management skills can be one of the most powerful things for teachers who are always “busy” and have too many things to do. You will be more productive with a lot of time in hand for your “me” time.
12. Enjoy teaching
“How to improve the mental health of teachers?”
This might be one of the vaguest tips here, but it’s worth mentioning.
When you’re not enjoying the work you’re doing, you will find yourself unhappy most of the time. You will always feel overwhelmed and stressed out.
So, if you genuinely enjoy being a teacher, try to learn how to love the little things that this job entails. For instance, if students aren’t paying attention in the class, don’t get angry. Instead, redefine your approach and maybe join in their fun as well. If someone hasn’t scored well in the exam, don’t punish or ignore them but rather try to help them get better.
There are many small things you can do to make your joy more enjoyable. And if you’re teaching in a good school that offers excellent facilities to the teachers, this enjoyment may come even more naturally.
So, let go of the little things and worries. Don’t take everything seriously all the time. Learn to enjoy your job. Yes, some days will be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be that way the whole year.
13. Have gratitude
This simple tip isn’t just about the mental health of teachers. It fits everyone.
When you’re counting your blessings, enjoying small achievements, and deploying gratitude for all that you have, it will help you feel elated and happier. (This won’t, however, be as effective if your mental health symptoms are severe. In that case, you’re advised to seek professional help immediately.)
This habit of expressing gratitude every day will improve your outlook, giving a positive touch to your train of thought. In the long run, you will feel so much better.
These are 13 powerful mental health tips for teachers in India that promote self-care and personal growth.
In the end, do not ignore your well-being. Don’t let a job affect your health.
If you find yourself stressed, sad, agitated and down most of the time, take those signs seriously. There are so many things you can do, starting almost immediately, to feel better.
At LEAD Powered Schools, we understand the importance of mental health for teachers. We provide our teachers with not just the best teaching facilities but also ensure they are constantly improving through rigorous training and networking opportunities.
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