Teachers often accept more-than-humanly-possible tasks, and only then ask themselves “why do I feel burned out?” Being busy does not necessarily equal productivity and will likely leave you exhausted.
According to globalwellnessday.org, an international site committed to wellness, the World Health Organization defines wellness as “[…] a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Here are three simple tips to help you achieve wellness.
Spend your time well
Time is arguably more valuable than money; choose to spend it with good people. Protect yourself and your time by nourishing your body, exercising and sleeping well. You may have some free lessons in your timetable so commit to blocking out some time for yourself.
In my experience this was challenging. During my non-contact time colleagues often insisted on meetings, or I was given relief teaching. I respected my free time more later in my career, and a combination of assertiveness and careful planning increased my productivity and wellness.
In a people-orientated profession quiet moments can help you to recenter. If you can get some marking, planning, and emails done in this time, you'll have less to take home. Home is your sanctuary, so limit the work that you bring back home.
During my free lessons I would put headphones on, light a scented candle and listen to music. This was particularly useful during the report writing season. Place a do-not-disturb sign on your office door, in a shared office, on the back of your office chair; respect your non-contact time.
Build a wellness library
The hours you spend reading can count towards your registered professional development and reading is one of the best ways to stay inspired and informed. If you don’t enjoy reading books, consider subscribing to a podcast aligned with your interests or bookmark your favourite blogs. Make reading or listening a habit and extract motivational quotes.
Teachers don't just teach, they are proactive learners. When you are inspired, you inspire others. Intentionally learn something new every day and your self-esteem and wellness will improve.
This is not about committing to an arbitrary amount of professional development hours but rather the excitement of learning and the satisfaction of personal accomplishment.
Looking back on my formative teaching years, I’ve spent hours creating resources and teacher-directed lesson plans featuring concepts I knew well. I once felt that teachers needed to be experts and that students would respond better to an authoritative instructor, though it later occurred to me that I too am still learning and will forever be learning.
I felt a weight lift when I accepted that I will not know all the answers. As an advocate for personal development, I’ve decided to look at learning through the eyes of a student and asked myself “what would interest me?”
There were many things I knew little about and so I transformed my teaching approach to be collaborative and inquiry-based. My students were open to learning with, and not just from me. I’ve witnessed a shift in student engagement and mutual respect, and this ultimately improved my personal wellness.