The importance of self-care in combating anxiety
Updated: May 16
This week (15-21 May) marks Mental Health Awareness Week, providing a valuable opportunity to shine a light on mental health challenges and promote overall well-being. The chosen theme for this year, set by the Mental Health Foundation, is 'anxiety', which affects over 8 million people in the UK, accounting for slightly over 1 in 10 of us.
Personally, I have grappled with bouts of depression, anxiety, and self-doubt for many years. Starting a new business amidst a pandemic hasn't exactly eased my anxiety, but it has allowed me to acknowledge it and develop better coping mechanisms. In the past, I was advised to keep these struggles hidden from colleagues, fearing that it would be deemed unprofessional or seen as a "weakness." Thankfully, we have moved beyond that era, and people now feel more comfortable opening up about their challenges.
Recently, I made a decision to dedicate a little time each week solely for myself. I used to believe that taking time away from work on the business or my responsibilities as a parent was selfish. Yet, I am realising the importance of maintaining a practice of self-care. The positive difference it has made already is remarkable. I feel more focused, energised, and less impatient. Contrary to my fears, prioritising self-care has actually helped me navigate challenges in both my personal and professional life more effectively.
Mental health is a deeply personal subject, and while there is a wealth of advice and tips available, there is no "one size fits all" magic cure. I have discovered an approach that works for me which involves regular exercise, open conversations about my feelings with others, and carving out time for activities I enjoy. I consider myself fortunate to have a strong support network that allows me to embrace this approach.
If you're struggling, please don't suffer in silence. I hope that Teachers Together can be seen as part of a support network for the people we work with, even if it’s just to pick up the phone and vent. Often, that’s all that is needed.
Below, you'll find some useful links and resources specifically tailored to those working in education. Whether you’re struggling yourself or are looking for ways to help someone else who is, I hope you find them beneficial.
Mental Health Awareness Week: Useful resources for teachers and support staff
Education Support is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff in schools, colleges and universities. They offer a range of resources and guides on their website and operate a free and confidential helpline.
This booklet by the Mental Health Foundation is full of helpful tips and advice, including supporting yourself, your pupils and your colleagues with anxiety when at school.
This micro learning CPD unit produced by the Chartered College of Teaching* includes articles and resources on supporting pupils to understand anxiety.
*Did you know Teachers Together members are able to claim a free membership to the Chartered College of Teaching? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.