How to Prioritise Your Well-Being as a Teacher

Hello, I’m Hannah. Co-founder of Reading Mate, ex-SEND English teacher turned online Health & Wellness Coach to busy professionals.

Growing up with a passion for reading made the decision to become an English Teacher quite easy. However, throughout my 10 years in the classroom, I was saddened to discover how few of my colleagues were able to make their health a priority alongside their teaching responsibilities. 

As someone who always had an interest in wellness, I did struggle with balance but always made my health a priority. In this weekly blog, I will share my opinions, advice and experience of navigating the chaos of education whilst simultaneously trying to maintain positive health habits.

Impact of teaching on well-being

As educators, the demands of the classroom often take priority over our own well-being. I certainly remember choosing not to drink throughout the day as I knew I didn’t have the chance to go to the toilet until lesson 5, or giving myself indigestion because I had lunch duty. The challenges of teaching in the UK can be immense. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the ways I managed it during my own teaching career and how I now support other professionals to prioritise their health while excelling in their career.

The Teacher’s Dilemma

Teaching is hugely rewarding, but it can also be emotionally and physically draining. The pressure to meet the diverse needs of students, coupled with administrative tasks and external expectations, often leaves little room for self-care. There are some days when self-care is being able to drink your coffee whilst it’s still hot, right?

A Journey to Wellness

Having gone through a series of personal challenges in the later part of my teaching career, I decided that the only way I could properly support my students and colleagues was by looking after my health. And at the time, my schedule in and out of school was not supportive of this. So this change started with finding balance. Balance and purpose beyond the daily challenges of teaching. 

Take Care Of Yourself From The Inside Out

Health is a huge factor when it comes to balance. If you’re not practising healthy behaviours e.g. eating foods that satisfy and nourish you, getting eight hours of shuteye, moving your body in ways that bring you joy, and staying hydrated, your body will definitely be off balance. If you’re having trouble with all three, try focusing on one at a time to ease your way into all of the above. 

Prioritise What Matters Most

The nature of teaching means that you’re trying to be everything to everyone, at all times which eventually leads to burnout. Instead, reflect on what matters most to you, along with the daily parts of your routine that are necessary, like your timetable, or caring for your kids. Beyond that, try focusing on the task at hand in the moment. 

Set Small Goals

When training for a marathon, you can’t expect to do the full course straight away, so you have to start with a 5k and work your way up. Be realistic with what’s actually achievable, which in turn can help you reach larger goals over time. To start, make a list of goals in each of the following areas of life and try to work on them one at a time: 

  • Health 
  • Physical fitness
  • Career 
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Romantic Relationships
  • Family
  • Finances

Take Time To Unwind

A car that’s empty can’t get you where you’re going. Just like your body can’t function properly if you’re on the go all of the time. Be sure to take time to relax and recharge both during the week and on the weekends. Whether it’s giving yourself 15 minutes at lunch to get fresh air, or a spa day on Saturday, these moments of self care are essential. Try reading a book, meditating, going for a jog, talking to a loved one, or taking a bath. Over time, these acts bring balance to your life in more ways than one.

Pencil In Social Time

Social interactions are essential to achieve balance. Make sure to check in with friends and schedule catchups, whether that’s virtually or in person. Put on lunch with the girls or do a virtual book club, with wine in hand. These commitments of human interaction not only bring about balance in your life but also keep you sane. 

So, it is possible to find balance in the delightful chaos of teaching and life. I’ve been there, juggling lesson plans, student needs, and my own sanity. The tipping point came when I realised that supporting others starts with looking out for me first.  

It’s about relishing each moment, celebrating the small stuff, and realising that, life’s too short to stress about everything. Take a breath and remember, as you weave in a bit more balance, you’re not just treating yourself, you’re creating an atmosphere that will positively impact everyone around you too.

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