I'm introducing the staff wellbeing week in briefing this morning... Scary! I'm going to talk about how staff wellbeing is paramount if a school wishes to retain new staff, lessen absence due to stress and anxiety, and be a place teachers want to work and thrive!
Awareness is the key, particularly of the fight, freeze and flight response we feel on a daily basis. Our poor brains feel they are constantly under 'attack', whether that be from students, e-mail, parents, our co-workers, management, management's management (QUAD days for example), the government - the list is endless. The tricky part is much of this is subconscious. No wonder we feel exhausted and frazzled.
And this is ok. It will not change; we will always feel under attack as that's how humans process the world around them. It is why we instinctively retreat to places of comfort when it all gets too much - bed for example or the settee or the pub or the staffroom, if this is a place of refuge.
The key to dealing with chronic stress is awareness of our emotional and physical responses to these threats and this is where mediation and mindfulness come in. Through practise, we can become conscious of our natural inclinations, thought patterns, behaviours and choose, mindfully, how we will deal with any given situation.
This does not mean we become passive; the opposite is in fact true. It can help us see what really needs to be done to make teaching a healthier occupation than it currently is. We may realise that certain school policies or demands are unrealistic or adding unnecessary strain. We may find new ways of working that are more productive and avoid duplication. Or, we may find that simply walking away for ten minutes and taking a breath can change our day and help us gain perspective.
And many, many more.
We are professionals - let us start to look after ourselves so we can look after others.