“Physician, heal thyself!”
The biblical proverb referring to the importance of taking care of your own defects rather than just correcting the faults of others is as relevant today as it was in the hoary past.
Apt for teachers, and indeed, for anyone in a position of power, since the state of their being affects not only themselves but all those they hold sway over.
Mental health of mentors matters
The mental health of teachers, educators, mentors is an area of deep concern that simply cannot be swept under the carpet. You wield immense power and influence over children who look up to you as role models and guides on the path of life.
We all know how we loved or were put off, a particular subject in school simply because of the teacher who taught that subject. Now imagine instead of a subject what it can do to life choices and life values.
When you exercise that level of influence on another human being, then your mental health is of paramount importance. You need to have control and mastery over your state of mind, your own mental, emotional, psychological and social equilibrium. How you handle a stressful situation, how you react to environmental pressures, how you relate to different people in your daily interactions – all these are markers of your mental health.
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Like sponges, they absorb
It’s amazing how children just absorb your personal anxieties and stresses like a sponge. They can so quickly pick up on your moods and your quirks. They are always watching, learning, internalising. The choices you make are influencing the choices they will make.
Taking care of your mental health is not a self-indulgent pursuit, it’s a supremely significant pre-requisite for the mental wholeness of the next generation.
Fortunately, there is great awareness today on this topic, and help is at hand as well.
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Quick tips to better mental health
While we all have our private demons and personal failings, as a teacher there are some simple tips you can follow to improve your mood and mental well-being:
- Exercise – Even 15-20 minutes of brisk walking, jogging or any aerobic exercise is great for lifting mood and spirits. 30 minutes is even better.
- Sleep – A sound sleep is the biggest stress-buster. Quality and quantity matter. Aim for 7-8 hours undisturbed.
- Food – Eat right to feel right. Get your daily ABCDs in vitamins and minerals. Carbs are not your enemy. Avoid fad diets. Eat sensibly.
- Order – Get organised with the small daily stuff. Keep your spaces orderly. You will be in much better control of how you feel. Try it.
- Breathe – Try deep breathing for calmness and composure. Inhale to a count of 6, hold 2, and exhale 8.
- Music – Music has the power to heal plants, babies, dogs, and you. Classical is better.
- Professional help – Seek out therapy and professional mental health care as you would seek physical health care.
Mental health is out of the closet. It’s no longer a bad word. Prioritise it. You owe it to the children you teach, and to yourself.