We know exam time is stressful for students, but it can be equally stressful for teachers as everyone scrambles to prepare for a busy and chaotic period. Erratic changes in your schedule, last-minute questions from students, grading papers and ensuring everything goes according to plan is no cakewalk. However, there are ways to keep your mental health under control and prioritize your well-being during this hectic period. Here are some easy ways to Re:Set your mental health.
Turn to self-care
A busy season should be no reason for you to neglect your downtime. When you get home each day, take some time off to do something that helps you relax. Whether it’s cooking your favourite dinner or drawing a warm bath with Epsom salts, remember to unwind. It’s also crucial to stay active and go for brisk walks or short runs. When you’ve had a bad day at work, turn to a gratitude journal to remind you why you became a teacher in the first place. Also important? Staying hydrated and eating healthy during this period.
A busy season should be no reason for you to neglect your downtime.
Are you a fan of stress balls? Or perhaps a cup of green tea makes you feel at ease? Don’t hamper your well-being by being worked up all day. Look for one self-care technique that’s easy to implement during the exam period and follow it diligently.
Remember: you’re your number one. In her TED talk, British school teacher and yoga instructor Kelly Hopkinson highlighted why teachers should prioritize their well-being. “What can we do as individuals to begin to collectively move mountains? It is so simple. Take care of yourself. That’s it,” she reminded us.
Online or offline? You decide
Consider checking out helpful resources online such as forums for teachers on platforms like Reddit. You’re likely to find support from like-minded strangers, answers to your questions and advice that can make it easier to get through the stressful period. Refer to sources that calm you down: memes that make you laugh out loud, animal videos that leave you feeling warm and happy, motivational clips that make you realize a tough period is going to pass. Try and embrace positivity. If social media is too overwhelming for you during this period, switch off and take a break. You do you!
Talk to your peers
Nobody is going to get you like your fellow educators. They know exactly what you’re going through and chances are they’re going through the same thing themselves! If you feel yourself getting bogged by an overwhelming list of tasks or bad class results that leave you feeling unsure, consider grabbing coffee with a colleague or even catch up with each other in the staff room for a few minutes. It’ll help you unwind, release your pent-up emotions and get another perspective on your situation. Talking will also help you realize you’re not alone.
Turn to regular breaks and time management
Do take breaks every few hours, no matter how packed your schedule may be. Meditating and consciously taking deep breaths throughout the day might be exactly what you need to let go of your worries for a little bit. Dealing with stress and helping students get through exams will require you to tackle one thing at a time so that you aren’t overwhelmed yourself. Plan in advance and leave room for last minute changes: a student falls sick and needs to reschedule, a parent wants to meet with you or the printer breaks down while you’re getting the exam together. Anything can happen. It’s helpful to chalk out your schedule for the day on paper and allocate time slots for important tasks. Start with the easiest and then tackle the most difficult ones. This will not only reduce your to-do list, but crossing some tasks off will motivate you and give you a sense of productivity. Being organized will make exam time more manageable for you.
A few tweaks in your routine, paying attention to self-care and staying committed to your well-being can help you get through an exhausting exam period. Focus on your goals, be kinder to yourself and take a deep breath: this too shall pass!