Posted on 7th June 2023

Staff wellbeing: Self-care isn’t selfish

3:17 PM, 7th June 2023
Staff wellbeing: Self-care isn’t selfish

This post is a guest blog by Education Support.

Looking after yourself is vital to performing at your best as a teacher or school leader. Education Support shares tips to help you prioritise self-care.

Self-care doesn’t just mean exercise and mindfulness, although those things may help some people. It can mean positive mental dialogue, setting clear boundaries and saying no. There’s no one-size-fits-all — self-care comes in different shapes and sizes. It’s about trying and seeing what works to help protect your mental health and foster sustainability.

Here are some simple ways you can start thinking about self-care.

1. Make a well-being action plan

Plan what you will do to look after yourself during the school year. Consider your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

2. What are your wellbeing non-negotiables?

What are the actions you will do no matter what? These actions should keep you balanced and feeling good. It could be regular exercise, time to enjoy a hobby or a simple routine that helps you organise your time.

Share these with your colleagues, friends and family so it becomes widely understood that you should keep this routine.

3. Start your day well

Find something you can easily do each morning that helps you start your day well. You could try meditation, being in nature or breathing exercises. Be careful of the news; too much tech and caffeine!

4. Give yourself worry time!

Give yourself dedicated time to acknowledge and process your worries. This can be half an hour daily, half an hour weekly or even less. Create a comfortable space, make a cuppa and write your worries down. Try discussing them with someone you trust, but make sure you put the worries you’ve written away once your time is up.

5. Do a weekly well-being check-up

Check in with your mental health. How are you feeling mentally and physically? Are you looking after your well-being regarding exercise, nutrition, and sleep? How are your thoughts making you feel?

6. Use Education Support’s circle of control, influence and concern tool

This tool will help you consider your challenges and think about how to respond to them. The challenges can be related to your work or personal life.

7. Take a moment

Use a simple technique like STOPP to take a moment and ground yourself.

  • Stop! – pause for a moment
  • Take a breath
  • Observe your thoughts and feelings
  • Pull back – get some perspective. See the bigger picture. Your thoughts are thoughts, not statements of fact.
  • Practice what works – what is the best thing to do right now for you?

8. Just say no

You don’t need to agree to anything outside your usual responsibilities that will cause you unreasonable stress or physical effort. Saying no to one thing may allow you to say yes to something else. Are you taking on responsibilities that align with your priorities and benefit your pupils?

And remember, self-care is not selfish!

No one wins if you’re frazzled or stressed – neither you nor the pupils. Self-care isn’t superficial either; it’s essential to being the best teacher you can be.

Finally, do not forget that the Education Support helpline is here for you throughout the year.

When you call, you’ll talk to a qualified counsellor. We’ll offer you immediate, confidential emotional support.

Call us; we’ll listen.

08000 562 561