World Mental Health Day is observed every year to raise awareness and chase away the stigma of mental health issues. The more open we are, the more understanding and supportive the community, the more mentally healthy our society will be.
Last Saturday 10th October was World Mental Health Day, and this year the message was simple – Look after your mental health Australia!
After months of physical distancing and heightened anxiety, we thought it more important than ever to check in to see just how our community are coping.
Teachers and support staff are a part of the frontline workforce sometimes feted in the media. That’s all very well and good, but when your time has been split between classroom and remote teaching, and your days and nights have been focussed around creating workable routines and support for your students and their families – there’s been little time to think about anything else.
With a heightened awareness of what your students, colleagues, family and friends are going through – who has been keeping an eye on you?
We encourage all educators and support staff, whether you are heading into school each day or are still working largely from home – be gentle with yourself and look after your mental health as you head into Term 4.
Stay connected – Physical isolation doesn’t mean total isolation. Don’t just face-time with your class; put that technology to personal use and face-time with your friends and family. Have regular chats over the fence or across your balcony. Write letters. Say thank-you. Say I love you. Laugh in the staffroom with your colleagues. Share how you feel allow your colleagues to do the same.
Stay active – Gyms may be closed and sport limited, so create a daily exercise routine. Make space for a spot of yoga or pilates. Dance in your kitchen. Take the dog for a run. Walk with a colleague around the school ground at lunchtimes. You might find yourself with a Pied-Piper following!
Eat well – 2020 has given us plenty of excuses for chocolate and carbs! Pack healthy, nutritious lunches and drink plenty of water. A balanced diet is great for your physical and mental health.
Stick to a routine if you can – A regular routine will help you to maintain a balance and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. Sleep, work, exercise, connect, relax …
Do something for YOU each day – We know! A teacher’s day is full enough, and most of your priorities are focussed around your students, family and school obligations. Do a little something that you enjoy to help you stay calm and relaxed. Read a little, take a bubble bath, listen to music …
Get enough sleep – Turn off the devices and get yourself comfortable. After a decent sleep you will feel energised and focussed.
Maintain some perspective – 2020 has been overwhelming in many ways. There have been changes and uncertainty. Everyone in the community has been touched. Look for something positive. You still have a job, you still have your friends, and maybe you have learned something that you can take into your future.
Seek help – Some level of stress and anxiety might be normal for this time of year – but it doesn’t have to be. Whatever you are going through, you don’t have to go it alone. Talk to a trusted friend or your GP. There are also telehealth and online resources available.
If you would like to share some of your own strategies and advice, we would love to get a conversation happening on the community.