May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Millions of Americans and their family members face the struggles of navigating a variety of mental health challenges in their daily lives. The month of May is dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues related to teachers, exploring strategies and tips for navigating these issues, and confronting stigma over diagnosis and treatment. For educators, there has been an increased spotlight on mental wellness for their students as well as themselves. The following toolkit includes tips and strategies for educators to manage and make time for their own mental health care.
Mental health tips for teachers
Reconnect to YOU
Pre-pandemic, if someone asked you why you became a educator, how would you answer? Try to remember your purpose and your connection to your profession. In the early days, what did you love, what brought you joy, what fulfilled you at the end of a day, a semester, a school year? To re-connect to your educator roots, try this great mental health exercise:
- Once a week, write a phrase or keyword on your planner to motivate you through the week, such as:
- I am making a difference!
- Every day is a new opportunity!
- Inspiring growing minds!
Work- Life Balance
This is important now more than ever when the lines between work and home have blurred, melded and in some cases, have no discernable separation at all! Our own kids and pets popping up on our class Google Meets; “outfit mullets”- professional on top, sweats on the bottom; streaming from our living rooms! Whether you are still virtual, hybrid or have returned in person, find a clear stop to your workday by developing a daily mental health ritual. The following tips can help bring awareness to the end of your work day and are great for your mental health:
- Go for a walk or enjoy 10 quiet minutes on your porch. Play a favorite song!
- Change into something comfortable right away.
- Have a cup of tea or a mocktail!
Body and Mind
Remember that your body and mind need care and attention, too. Sleep habits, exercise, and healthy minds allow us to operate at our peak capacity. This has been a taxing year on everyone and our physical and emotional beings are fully taxed. Use each day to slowly replenish your mental health tank.
- Establish (or re-establish) a regular bedtime.
- Block out time for exercise. Take a walk, get back to the gym if you are comfortable, or do some free online guided workouts like the ones found on Fitness Blender.
- Start a Gratitude Journal to keep yourself basking in those positive vibes.
Establish New Goals
The end of the school year is a great time to debrief, think ahead and give your mental health targeted attention. Take some time to consider what you want to achieve in the coming school year. Focus on personal and professional goals alike! Maybe you want to introduce something new to your palette, train for a race, take some classes, or motivate yourself to establish a new classroom skill.
- Set goals that are achievable with discernable end points.
- Consider how these goals will leave you feeling satisfied and accomplished.
- Find an accountability buddy!
There is proven value in rewarding achievement of goals. Think of what motivates you to complete projects, chores, and other tasks. As you set your mental health goals, establish benchmarks for rewards to keep you moving forward toward the finish line.
- Indulge in a special dessert or favorite meal.
- Take a weekend nap or binge on Netflix.
- Book a massage or self- care treatment.
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.