Headspace #20

Happy Birthday to Headspace! This is the 20th anonymous mental health blog that I’m sharing – the 20th person who has decided that they want to do something to tackle the stigma that can surround Mental Health. This week’s blog is another one from a teacher talking about the stress that exists in Schools, and why we need to be real about dealing with stress and mental health.

Work related stress in Education

Look after number 1. I’d heard this advice before and been urged to love others and be someone who is counter cultural in that you support others. But now I realise how important  self care is. You can’t help others unless you are in a good place. You can’t drink from an empty cup.

An image of a cup that says "You can't pour from an empty cup"

I struggled with work related stress as a Primary Teacher and it got to the point where I couldn’t sleep as I was overthinking (trying to remember everything I had to do) and then burning the candle at both ends. What I learnt is to ask for help and speak up. If you try to keep going you can make mistakes which will bring more stress and the problem spirals.

Also how approachable is your boss? Really? Your work has a duty of care but how does it work in reality? How easy is it to speak up?

New job, new chapter. But I find myself in a similar situation. It’s Ok. I know what to do. Speak up! A manager who seems genuine and encouraging.  “Don’t worry someone else will be in charge and you will be relieved and less stressed” but it doesn’t happen. Instead: scrutiny, discouragement, on edge, nervous,  I’m no good, spiral down, self doubt, mistake.

I took a day off for stress. Why? It’s exhausting being with 30 children 9 hours a day (as lovely as they are, they are hard work), negative comments from colleagues got me down leading to  internalising “I’m no good at this” and so much to do: preparing activities, writing observations and staying organised.

“I’ll put it down as a migraine. The normal manager wouldn’t approve of a mental health day. “ Why is there still stigma?

SO bosses how well do you know your team? Can they approach you when vulnerable? Or are you too busy? Closed door? Lots to do?

Some jobs are not like that: some provide counselling, pamper evenings and have mental health first aid. What if we ranked companies according to how well they support staff wellbeing like league tables? It seems to make change, you must use comparison!?

And schools: How about this? https://www.twinkl.co.uk/blog/the-twinkl-staff-wellbeing-award Let’s make it a reality, let’s make it a priority.

If you’re in this situation this is my advice:

  • Self care is important
  • Speak up if you can
  • Lean on colleagues
  • Consider if it is the right place for you
  • How can you manage your time so you don’t have to take work home?

Tips for Mental Health:

It comes down to you and how determined and resilient you are. It comes from ‘inner strength’ . Of course there is more awareness these days  (Check out these links: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/

http://www.thehappinesslab.org/ )

We don’t need to have stiff upper lips anymore we can have wobbly lips that turn down in a frown: it’s ok not to be ok. Talking about it and being vulnerable with each other brings us closer. Here are my tips for getting through it:

  • Pamper yourself- paint your nails, get your eyebrows waxed, have a bubblebath. These little changes can make a big difference to how you feel about yourself. Others compliment you and you feel great.
  • Reach out and talk to close friends
  • Exercise gets you out of your head and focusing-for me it was dance that worked
  • If you have the energy,  keep your home clean and tidy. Something you can control. Try Marie Kondo or Mrs Hinch approaches.
  • For me a mindfulness app like Smiling mind really helped. The starry night meditation helped me sleep.
  • I also tried yoga with Adrienne (YouTube it) there is one for sleep which is great.
  • For me having a drinky helped sometimes in that it took the edge of (be careful with this one though-you don’t want to be overly reliant on this)
  • Chamomile tea really helped me relax.
  • Set boundaries where you protect your time: I won’t work on Friday evenings
  • Trust your instincts. If you are too stressed to be effective think carefully about your next steps. Others can give you advice but you have to learn to trust yourself and your judgements.

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