Although the country is amid a second lockdown, where many have been asked or chosen to work from home, teachers across the nation continue to put themselves on the frontline to educate the next generation. A vocation, a calling, a passion. When the average teaching day outside of a pandemic can be tumultuous at best, we must applaud our educators for continuing to return to the classroom in the face of adversity.
The mental health and wellbeing of teachers must be considered as we wander through this next phase of the pandemic and out into the unknown that awaits us at the end of the year. Although positivity can feel out of reach at times, there are a few things we can suggest doing to see us through this second lockdown.
Getting outside is key
Now the clocks have gone back most of us will be driving to work in the dark and leaving in the dark. When you can, get outside. We are still able to take walks, daily exercise and fresh air. It’s important to see the sunlight (if only through the wintry cloud cover) and take time away from the classroom. Use the weekends to wrap up warm and walk amongst the fallen leaves, breathe in the frosty air and socialise with someone or just collect your thoughts.
Maintain that work/life balance
It can be easy when there are no distractions from work when you get home. However, as much as you may want to throw yourself into your marking the moment you sit on that sofa, don’t. Spend your free time doing things you want to do. Chill out, watch Bake Off, download TikTok and have a giggle. Video call loved ones, bring back the revival of the banana bread. Whatever it is that allows you to switch off teacher mode – do it. Don’t let work encroach on every other part of your life. You work to live, not the other way around.
A month of self-care
Utilise this breathing space to take care of yourself. Set yourself the challenge of spending time with yourself doing activities that make you feel better. Allow yourself to be unproductive if you need that rest. Run a bubble bath. Read a book. Stick noise-cancelling headphones on and take a nap!
Or if doing nothing makes you feel anxious, channel that energy into low-stress activities that’ll put your mind at ease. Do that thing you’ve been putting off for ages, declutter a space that’s been driving you crazy or pull out the puzzle you didn’t get round to last lockdown.
This is a weird and difficult time. There is no right answer. Just because Janet from primary school has been baking up a storm and creating macrame plant holders like she’s got an Etsy account to fill doesn’t mean that you should be too. Self-care is individual, just do what’s right for you.
Make a lockdown playlist with friends
This is a personal suggestion which helped me the first time round and has been renewed with vigour for November. It’s something to look forward to everyday, it’s a momentary distraction from the outside noise and it means you speak to your playlist pals every day to discuss their choices. There are always plenty of options to choose from online or get creative in the group chat and make your own. Either way it’s a quick and easy pick-me-up in a time where everyone needs a little music in their life.
Really, it’s about doing what’s best for you. Anyone can tell you to try breathing techniques and hope for the best, but when it comes down to it, focusing on what works for you as an individual is the important message. This too shall pass, and I hope December brings a little more peace and stability for everyone.
About the author
After completing a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester, Tammy worked as a Learning Support Assistant, with a focus on helping students develop their literacy skills. She then taught as an English teacher at an all-boys comprehensive school in Berkshire. Now she has turned her sights to a career in writing, with education at the heart of it.