Celebrating World Teachers Day – Why teacher self-care is critical

On the 5th of October every year, World Teachers’ Day is marked across the world to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements, and draw attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly added to the challenges faced by already over-extended education systems throughout the world. To mark World Teachers’ Day we wanted to share our top reminders to help teachers maintain their wellbeing and manage their emotions in these unprecedented times.

1. Self-care

It’s a well known saying – “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. In other words – if you’re running low on energy or resilience, you can’t support anyone else. A bit like putting your oxygen mask on first before you can help others. Looking after you is not selfish, it’s the best way to be well enough to help those who rely on you or look to you for guidance.

For Self-Care ideas – see our Wellbeing Guide and Managing Anxiety Guide on our website here

2. Name it to tame it

When we’re feeling intense emotions, It can help us – and others around us – if we can name what we’re thinking and feeling. As an example, if we feel angry or frustrated, it can help to say this calmly out loud (eg ‘It’s no-one’s fault – I just feel really angry, frustrated, upset about … ) This verbal acknowledgement signals to our brain and body and to others that we know what’s going on – that we’re ‘taming’ the feelings.

We’ve recognised a feeling that has the potential to overwhelm our internal alarm system. Just doing this can help retain a level of calm in managing the emotions and sensations we’re feeling. Having intense emotions is normal in life – particularly during testing times like these – and it’s ok to feel this and acknowledge it. This helps us to avoid bottling things up and reacting or overreacting to a situation.

3. This is temporary and not forever

Acknowledge that the emotions you’re feeling, thoughts you’re having will change – none of this is forever. It can be too easy, when we have so much uncertainty, to feel as if this is all there is. We know though that this time too will pass, so reminding yourself of this frequently (hourly if need be!) helps us stay calm and positive.

The Covid-19 crisis and the emotions it stimulates, is not ‘all of us’. We still have space for laughter, joy, curiosity, acceptance and gratitude in our lives, if we can just notice these things as well.

4. Reaching out for support and connection

None of us are superhuman. We all need support and being a parent in a crisis is an incredibly tough job. Connect with friends, family and wider support networks(phone, text, email WhatsApp, online group chats, writing letters) – ideally at least once every hour during the day – just 2 minutes can help..

Use a video link when you can, as seeing facial expressions (smiles, laughter, empathy) gives us a deeper sense of connection and a sense of the person’s presence. This connection helps us stay grounded and breaks up the day so that our human (and maybe cat or dog fur-baby!) connections are varied.

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