Following on from our Five Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health, That Nursery Life have put together five more top tips to ensure you, and your Early Years team, are taking care of yourselves as best you can.
1. Keep Things in Perspective
To try and keep feelings of failure or uselessness at bay, try keep things in perspective. Assess the situation you’re in and what’s going around you and take stock of what you can and can’t do. For example:
- Even if lessons are not going to plan or technology isn’t working properly, I am still helping children maintain some kind of normality by just being there, either in person or online.
- It is not my fault if things change at the last minute so I should not berate myself for taking some time to find my feet.
- I can and will work hard but will also make my own wellbeing a priority.
2. Improve Your Sleep
Lack of sleep leads to tiredness and more stress throughout the day, which can then cause you to stay up worrying. To break this habit, try to make sure you’re getting enough, good-quality sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can aid better sleep, as can making sure you’re getting enough sunlight (open those curtains!) and avoiding using your phone right before bed, choosing to do some reading or yoga instead.
3. Establish a Routine
Making sure your day is structured makes you feel more purposeful and grounded in times of upheaval. Try to schedule when you’ll take your lunch, and stick to it, moving away from your work area while you eat (if possible). Waking up and going to sleep at regular times not only improves your sleep quality, but also adds regularity to your entire day. At the beginning of your workday note down a few goals for what you want to achieve and aim to fulfil them as much as possible – the sense of achievement will be a great way to end your day!
4. Be Kind
Be kind; to everyone, but especially yourself. You may advise friends to not be so hard on themselves for things that you reprimand yourself for. The situation in the UK will cause enough stress and you don’t need to exacerbate it by not giving yourself a break. If you’re trying to teach children online and it’s not going well, remember to be kind to yourself, as well as the parents trying to support their children’s learning and the children – bewildered by all the change – trying to learn.
5. Reach Out
It’s important to remember that you are not alone and, even if they seem to be handling everything, others are struggling, too. In the words of Jason Manford, “don’t compare your full film to someone else’s trailer” – you are not failing just because it seems like others have it together more than you. If you can’t speak to friends, family or colleagues, there are a number of websites and helplines available, such as Mind.
Once again, the important thing to remember is that you are working under intense pressure in a situation very few of us could ever imagine happening, so it’s unsurprising if you’re struggling. If things are getting too much, however, please consult the NHS website for mental health services in your local area, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.