By Dr Francesca Heffernan
Hopefully we are all feeing rested after the summer break, but the pressure of the new academic year and the length of the autumn term can quite quickly have an impact on staff capacity and staff well-being, both physically and emotionally. This is something we at Applied Psychologies are always ready to help with.
With this in mind, I wanted to share some of my top tips which I share in staff training.
1. Be kind to yourself
These continue to be difficult times for school staff, and this is not helped by the media trend towards ‘normality’ being communicated as an expectation for us all. It helps to remind ourselves of the mantras below:
Some people are falling apart right now and that is okay
Some people will hold it together until this is over then crumble, that is okay
Some people won’t know exactly how this has affected them for a long time and that is okay
Everyone is different and that’s okay
2. Reflect on your metacognition
It can help to reflect on our metacognitive processes. In this situation the process simply relates to thinking about our thinking and has been a focus in many meditational practices going back thousands of years.
Sometimes, simply recognizing our thoughts for what they are - thoughts not facts - and letting them move through our mind without focusing on them, can help us to reduce their impact on our emotions.
A great mental visual I channel to help me do this is the visual of bubbles moving up and away from me in the wind.
3. Shift focus from your mind to your body
It can help to shift our focus from our mind to our body. For example, using mindfulness. These types of practices do not have to be long and formal, just focusing on our breathing, or bodily sensations for 30 seconds can be enough to self-regulate and interrupt any negative thought processes which are occurring.
4. Meet your basic needs first
It can help to identify if any of our basic needs are not being met and focus on meeting those first (Maslow’s Hierarchy). We can become focused on higher order needs such as meeting work deadlines and managing our emotions when actually we are not sleeping or eating well.
It can be difficult to meet our basic needs at times. However, focusing our energies on meeting those needs first, can sometimes be more successful in helping us to manage the higher order needs after.
5. And please remember
Not every day has to be the most productive day
You are human… you’re perfectly imperfect
It is important to put your own gas mask on first as only then will you be able to meet the needs of others
If you would like to discuss the ways in which educational psychologists can support staff wellbeing, talk to your EP or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org