The pandemic has certainly affected all occupational groups and the way they function.
Teaching is no exception. Traditional methods of teaching have moved to unfathomable educational methods — online teaching. The COVID-19 pandemic demanded that this radical shift happens at an accelerated pace with little or no time to prepare. This has put inordinate pressure on the whole system — impacting the mental, physical, and financial health of teachers and staff.
Teaching during pandemic times has brought on more responsibilities and challenges. Besides work-related anxiety, with all the additional new demands in unconventional ways and the stress of no physical contact, there is also unpredictability and health issues to manage on the personal front. The challenges are many but we know one thing for certain that teachers — all around the world have taken up a lot of new responsibilities with grace to ensure that learning reaches the learners seamlessly.
Mental health has certainly been one of the main topics during this pandemic. As a teacher or even as a stakeholder in the teaching process — have you stopped to notice and shift the stress that may be catching up with you. If not- now is a good time to begin.
As an individual
- Being Self-Aware: Observe how you are feeling. How the pandemic has affected your mental health. Whether or not you’re feeling stressed due to the increase in workload and changes. Being aware is always the first step for change to happen.
- Take a pause: During the day pause intermittently and breathe deeply for at least 10 counts
- Engage in self-care: Allot certain hours of the day for self-care. This time is for you to refresh, refuel and re-engage with your responsibilities in a healthy manner. It could be reading a book, gardening, meditating, or even just sitting by yourself in a place that provides you a sense of peace and calm. It is important that during this time you completely focus on yourself and what makes you happy.
- Move around: As a teacher, you must be used to walking from one class to another as opposed to taking online classes from one spot. To make sure you don’t get used to the sedentary lifestyle try to find time to move around. You can set timers for when you need to get up and take a walk. Or else do some exercise every day for some time.
- Be self-compassionate: You might already be telling your students how it is okay to make mistakes, encouraging them to have a growth mindset. Give yourself the same treatment. When you find yourself making mistakes or feeling overwhelmed due to all the changes, remind yourself that you’re also learning. It is alright to make mistakes and as you’re making mistakes and learning, you’re also growing as a person.
- Filter Negative news: If you find yourself getting very distressed by the negative news you read, filter the amount of news you intake.
- Talk about your feelings: Talk about your frustrations and fears with someone you trust or take professional help. We must speak about our emotions so they don’t stay bottled up, adding to even more distress.
- Spend some quality time with your family: Plan game/movie nights to de-stress, rebond and reconnect after an isolating day of work and also take support from them to maintain a positive mindset during these difficult times.
As a teaching personnel
- Set reasonable goals and expectations: Your teaching style and methods may not be the same as they used to be. You might be feeling overwhelmed, technically challenged, make mistakes, and not being as productive as before. Setting small goals and expectations can help you learn new teaching techniques and maintain your mental health at the same time.
- Have a designated workspace: This helps you be more productive. The minute you sit down in your workspace you will know that you’re about to start your work and this will therefore set your mood towards work. Communicating this to your family members will ensure that they know when not to disturb you. Once you have drawn such boundaries as to what comprises your workspace it will also be easier to disconnect from a work mindset once you’re done for the day.
- Set a time for work-related calls: This can help in setting boundaries between your personal and professional time. By doing this you know that once your work time has ended you can now relax and not expect any more work calls.
- Engage with the teaching community: This will provide you a space to talk about the difficulties you’re facing and come up with creative ways to make teaching interesting for yourself and your students.
It is important to remember that while ensuring the quality of your performance at work is maintained, it is equally essential and important to take care of your personal needs and mental health.
‘A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.’ — Henry Adams
Written by Maryam Hannan
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