Another busy school year – taking care of your mental health in education

News from St John - 2 Nov 2021

So close we can feel the holidays!

There is no denying that this has been another challenging year for teachers, educators and students. With lockdowns and threats of Covid on the doorstep, the pressure on the education system has been intense.

At the end of the year, there is increased pressure for teachers to wind up the year, while also working with students who are exhausted as well.

As and educator, here are some things to consider for how you can take better care of yourself:

  • Develop a regular sleep routine – there are some wonderful diffusers on the market that you can use with essential oils to help calm you and clear your mind before you go to sleep.
  • Try to have a healthy eating regime – eat from the rainbow – fruits and vegetables are your friend!
  • Use your sick leave – more important now than ever! Don’t push through and put yourself at risk of exhaustion
  • Get some exercise – it’s so hard to do when all you want to do at the end of the day is flop, but your mind and body will thank you for it!
  • Keep a reflective journal – have an attitude of gratitude! Write down three things that you are grateful for each day.

  • Turn off your email and work phone outside of work hours – that ‘important’ email can really wait until tomorrow… if you don’t think it can, set yourself a time limit for reading and responding and switch off!
  • Stay close to friends and family – connection is important and will help when things are hard.

Reach Out suggest setting up a self-care plan, which incorporates all areas of your health including:

  • Workplace or professional
  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Relationships.

Take some time to look at their website for some really useful information.

And for those struggling with exhausted munchkins as we head into the last few weeks of term, some tips for you from an amazing teacher we know! Thanks Belinda for these awesome tips!

Five Ways to Support Your Little Kids During Mango Season (my unofficial name for Term 4 lol)

  • Make sure they get enough sleep. Lost sleep hours bank up and they need to be their sharpest to have a strong finish to the year.
  • Check in on homework. Try to spend quality time helping them with their homework. If they don’t have homework, read a book together or spend time working on other important life skills, like riding a bike or taking turns when playing a board game.
  • Serve up healthy food and make sure they drink lots of water. Diets high in sugar lead to an inability to focus and think. Water helps lower cortisol levels, which reduces their stress levels (and yours!).
  • Get outside and get active. Many kids spend their learning time sitting at a desk during class. Restless legs make for restless minds – get out and get moving!
  • Hang out together. They’re more likely to share their worries with you if you have a good connection and spend quality time together. Find something you both enjoy doing together.

Five Ways to Support Your Big Kids During Mango Season

  • Make sure they get enough sleep. Lost sleep affects your ability to think and function clearly, regardless of age. Keep devices turned off and out of bedrooms.
  • Check in and offer your support. Try to spend quality time helping them with their homework and study, both after school and weekends. Most won’t ask for help, so be proactive in checking in with them. If they tell you they have nothing to do, they’re pulling your leg!
  • Get healthy, get outside and get active. Fresh air and exercise are great ways to boost and improve mental health. Top this up with healthy food choices and lots of water to balance out cortisol levels.
  • Hang out together. A problem shared is a problem halved – they’re more likely to share their problems with you if you have a good connection. Hanging out with other families also gives them (and you) an opportunity to socialise with people beyond your family circle.
  • Make a plan. Create a visual calendar with upcoming assignments and exams. Use lists to prioritise tasks and balance out study time. If your teenager has trouble tracking their workload, use highlighters to colour code tasks or activities for the same subject.

Five Ways to Support Your Kids as they Transition into 2022

  • Check in with your school about their transition programs. If your child is new to primary or high school, make sure you know when their transition events are occurring and add them to your calendar. These events are fantastic opportunities for your children to make new friends, get their head around their new school, and for you to meet new faces (see point 5).
  • Play dates and hang outs are great ways to keep kids socialising over the Christmas holidays, and maintaining the social links they have established at school during the year. Got little kids? Find parks or playgrounds to visit during the holidays and you might have impromptu play dates with school friends. Got teenagers? Get them into school-based events during the holidays, like sports training programs, or consider programs beyond school to give them an opportunity to meet new people.
  • Be prepared. Get your stationery and uniforms organised before mid-January. Get them involved with covering their books, picking their pencils or choosing a lunchbox. They stress about not having the right equipment at school more than they’ll tell you!
  • Make and discuss their travel plans. How are they getting to school? Where will you meet them for pick up? Talk with them about their travel arrangements, and if they’re catching public transport, try a few test-runs during the holidays.
  • Find support via social media. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Some schools have parent groups for year levels. These are great platforms for asking questions, sharing information (so many events to remember!) and posting comments that only parents could understand…like when your child comes home wearing someone else’s school shoes.

And if it goes pear-shaped, there are always hugs and ice cream!