I have the wonderful privilege to work amongst educators for part of my week and I am amazed at how much they seem to fit in and achieve. As a fellow teacher I hear the comments from non-teaching folk such as but "teachers get so much time off" "they get to finish at 3pm". I notice a part in myself during those conversations that longs to defend my teacher friends when these comments roll in. The fact is, teaching can be exhausting work, particularly when those called to teaching want to invest their whole self into their work in order to see their students flourish in their learning, this is costly work. Throughout the term time and even during the holiday breaks, teachers can often find it difficult to rest, to switch off from constantly learning themselves or thinking about their students and how to teach and care more effectively, they're prone to overthink and worry about their students and this can lead to burnout if left unchecked.
At Hope Christian Counselling we love working with teachers in developing strategies that ensure their personal practices are sustainable for the long term. One of these is learning how to build in rest and recovery not just in the "holiday" periods but throughout the term time, allowing the body, mind and soul to recover and work in a way that is restorative rather than draining. Making time for rest and recovery can significantly improve mental health in the following ways;
Stress Reduction: Rest and recovery provide your mind with the much-needed break from the daily stressors of life. Chronic stress can lead to a myriad of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. When you take time to relax and recuperate, you allow your body to release tension, lower cortisol levels, and promote a sense of calm. Even short breaks during the day can make a significant difference in managing stress. This can mean getting out of the staff room or the classroom and playing some handball with students or having a quite cuppa at the school vegie patch.
Enhanced Cognitive Function: Sleep is a crucial aspect of rest and recovery. When you sleep, your brain undergoes a process of consolidation, where it organizes and stores information. A good night's sleep not only helps you think more clearly but also improves problem-solving skills and enhances memory. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can lead to cognitive impairments and emotional instability. Sleep is good for teachers as well as their students.
Emotional Well-being: Rest is not just about sleep; it also encompasses activities that relax and rejuvenate your mind, such as meditation, hobbies, and spending time in nature. These activities help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, boost self-esteem, and foster a positive outlook on life. Taking time for yourself allows you to connect with your emotions and process them in a healthy way. Take a break on the weekends or afternoons and get out in nature, step away from the marking just for a moment...
Physical Health Benefits: Physical and mental health are intertwined. Engaging in regular exercise, which can be a form of active recovery, has been shown to release endorphins, reduce stress hormones, and improve mood. Adequate rest also supports your body's immune system, preventing illness and, in turn, protecting your mental health from the added stress of being unwell. Join a gym, walk regularly with a friend, swim in the ocean, find your way of enjoying daily exercise.
Increased Resilience: When you make rest and recovery a priority, you build resilience against life's challenges. You become better equipped to handle stressors, setbacks, and difficult emotions. Think of it as sharpening your mental tools; the more you invest in self-care, the more prepared you are to face adversity. Teachers need a buffer for the unexpected, resting regularly creates this so that you can be less reactive and more proactive in your relationships at school.
Better Relationships: Rest and recovery help you maintain healthier relationships. When you're well-rested and emotionally balanced, you're more patient, empathetic, and capable of effective communication. This, in turn, fosters better connections with others, reducing conflicts and enhancing your overall social well-being.
Creativity and Innovation: Rest provides your mind with the space it needs to wander and explore. This can lead to increased creativity and innovative thinking. Many groundbreaking ideas have emerged during moments of relaxation and daydreaming. By allowing yourself to rest, you may discover new solutions to old problems. Yes! teachers need creativity for unique and engaging lessons and problem solving in the moment.
Self-Reflection: Finally, rest and recovery create an opportunity for self-reflection. It allows you to step back, evaluate your priorities, and set meaningful goals. This self-awareness can lead to a more fulfilling life, aligning your actions with your values and desires.
Rest and recovery are not signs of laziness or weakness but rather powerful tools for maintaining and nurturing your mental health. We would love to be able to support you in improving your mental health in order to manage the demands that teaching brings. You are valuable and your health is a powerful contributor to student outcomes.
Please get in touch using the contact page if you would like to learn more.