School staff stress is at an all time high! Changes in curriculum and testing, children’s behaviour, workload impact and teacher shortages are jeopardising the mental health of teachers on a daily basis. Anxiety, depression and complete mental breakdowns are becoming common place. It becomes a vicious cycle; one that seems impossible to break.
We know the importance of teaching children good mentally healthy strategies and habits. But, how can teaching this to children impact our own well-being?
According to research conducted by Katherine Weare for the .b Mindfulness in Schools Project in association with University of Exeter, in her report named, Impacts on the Wellbeing and Performance of School Staff, identifies that staff that use mindfulness strategies have been shown to:
Many of the strategies outlined in my previous posts in the Mindfulness in the Classroom series can be practiced just as easily by adults. Refreshing yourself about these mindfulness strategies and trying them yourself will give you a taster for what works best for you.
Mindfulness in the Classroom series
I hear you moan, “But, I just don’t have time! “, “I have too many things to do!” or “I have too many things running through my head!”.
STOP! YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT!
My favourite quote is, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got!” So, if what you are doing is leaving you stressed, anxious or depressed, then you have to do something different NOW!
Can you give yourself 5-10 minutes a day to be mindful?
Are YOU worth a few moments?
In addition to what has been outlined in previous posts, here are some other mindful techniques that can easily fit into your day.
Deep Breathing– This triggers the relaxation response. The key to deep breathing is ensuring the exhale is longer than the inhale. There is a nerve called the Vagus nerve that runs down the diaphragm that tells our brain to slow down the turn down the sympathetic nervous system (that releases stress hormones) and turn up the parasympathetic nervous system that supports the lowering of heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. This then calms us down. Top tip: On the exhale, ensure your shoulders relax.
-100 breathes technique– Breathe deeply 100 times, counting as you go. If this is too much, start off slowly with 10 breathes and add ten more each day or few days.
– 5 minute breathing– Set the timer on your phone and breathe deeply until the timer goes off.
Meditation– Meditation has shown to shrink the brain’s stress centre, the amygdaloid, and thickens the pre-frontal cortex that controls awareness, concentration and decision making. In short, the more you meditate the easier it becomes to meditate and find time for meditation.
Meditation does not require hours of sitting crossed legged while chanting. It does require you to be mindful of one present feeling.
– Everyday Activities– Simple everyday activities can become a meditation as long as you focus on the activity at hand; how it feels, how it smells, the sensations it brings, the sounds it makes. Examples: taking a shower, watching the kettle boil, drinking a cup of coffee/tea, brushing your teeth, sweeping the floor, putting on your clothes. Don’t multi task. Be mindful of the moment and allow other thoughts to float away.
– Guided meditations– There are many free guided meditations online in various lengths and with varying focus. There are also many free apps like Calm and Headspace. 5-10 minutes a day can mean saving hours of needless stress and anxiety that slows your pace.
Practising Gratitude– The act of kindness and gratitude triggers feelings of well-being. Remember, positivity begets positivity. Once you start to consciously show gratitude, it starts to become a good habit that happens naturally as that spiral of happiness feeds the cycle.
– #PositivePostItDay– Participate in things like #PositivePostItDay, Maybe make it your mission to do this everyday or once a week. An explaination can be found here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/positivepostitday/
– Random Acts of Kindness- This brightens everyone’s day. It doesn’t have to cost.
– ABC Appreciation Meditation– Mentally go through the alphabet and name one thing you are grateful for that starts with that letter; A- air I breathe B- Bobby my son, etc.
Hand/Mind Connection– If you find yourself in a stressful moment and the breathing techniques or simple meditations are not helping, immerse your hand in warm water (or rub your hands together quickly to warm them up). This opens the blood vessels and tricks your brain out of a stressful state.
The key is to find an inner peace that allows you to be the best teacher possible. Mindfulness may be what you are looking for to have a work life balance during these stressful times.
How do you practise mindfulness for your own mental health?
Having problems meditating?
Read the post : A Teacher’s Mindfulness- I Can’t Stop Thinking!