Supporting Your Mental Health as an Educator
Teachers often focus their attentions on taking care and supporting others. A teachers mental health is not only important to them but important to their co-workers, families, and students. Here are some ways to support your mental health and some resources for struggling teachers.
Ways to Support Your Mental Health
Set boundaries and hold to them. Some ways to set boundaries include:Set a max amount of grading time. Stick to that time frame.
- Schedule student assistance hours. Let parents and students know when you are available to talk or respond to phone calls/emails.
- Take a break. Make your lunch an adult only time. Close your door and let yourself decompress.
- Ask for help and share the load.
- Set your computer to auto-shutdown at a certain time.
Focus on what you can control. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of uncertainty. Don’t focus on what you can’t control. Controlling what you can will help you give structure back to the classroom.
Move around! Here are some ways teachers are getting movement in their busy schedules:
- Chair exercises: arm circles, quick feet, squat calf raises, etc.
- Walking the halls or outside.
- Invite colleagues or friends to exercise with you.
Model self-compassion. Try self-love affirmations every morning. It may seem silly at first, but it can seriously help your mental wellness. Here are some examples of self-love affirmations:
- Everything is going to be okay.
- One day at a time, one step at a time.
- Releasing stress is easy.
- I choose to feel peaceful.
- I am letting go of all my worries and fears.
- I surround myself with peace and pleasant emotions.
Socialize with friends and family. Having meaningful relationships and connections is very important when you’re having a hard time and need people to lean on.
Exercise self-care. Here are some ways you can ensure mental wellness with self-care:
- Schedule time for yourself every day.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Get outside and enjoy sunshine or try gardening.
- Walk or bike (especially outside).
- Write or draw.
- Cuddle your pets if you have any.
- Get a hug from a friend or family member.
- Read about people who inspire you.
- Read a book.
- Cook a yummy meal.
Have reasonable expectations. Give yourself time and space to adjust to changes and don’t pressure yourself to have it all together.
Resources for Teachers
Apps: Calm and Headspace are excellent mindfulness and meditation apps.
Mental Health Support Groups and Organizations:
- Happy Teacher Revolution
- NCTE Member Gathering, National Council of Teachers of English
- Teach for America Network Slack channel
- Teaching With Mental Health in Mind
Mental Health Websites:
- ASCD Express, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
- CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) Create for Education and the Garrison Institute.
- Care for the Caregiver: Guidelines for Administrators and Crisis Teams, National Association of School Psychologists
- “Don’t Lose Your Head,” NEA Today
Books on Mental Health
- “Moment for Teachers: Self-Care for Busy Teachers – 101 Free Ways for Teachers to Become More Inspired, Peaceful, and Confident in 30 Seconds”
- “The Beginning Teacher’s Field Guide: Embarking on Your First Years”
- “First Aid for Teacher Burnout: How You Can Find Peace and Success”
- “See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers”
Mental Health Podcasts