29th July 2019
How to take care of your mental health over the summer holidays
The summer holidays are finally here, and teachers across the country are taking a well-deserved (and much-needed!) break from their classrooms for 6 to 8 weeks. Many of you will have already heard someone complain that teachers receive “too much” holiday, and as much as we’d like to give some of those people the experience of working all term long without a break, unfortunately we’ll never be able to make them understand how draining being a teacher can be.
The holidays are a time to rest, relax and recap on the year gone by, and we hope you enjoy your time away from the classroom. (Incidentally, we have a blog full of ways you can make the most of your summer holidays – in case you were stuck for ideas.) However, despite how welcome this break from your classroom is, worrying new research from the Education Support Partnership shows that there are concerns for teachers’ wellbeing over the holidays, too.
The negative factors indicated as affecting teachers’ wellbeing includes an inability to “switch off” from work, the amount of work teachers are expected to do over the holidays, student performance and pending exam results, a lack of autonomy over their role, loneliness, financial worries, and the amount of preparation needed for the following year.
Switch off from work
“For at least the first two weeks [of the holidays] promise to give yourself a clean break”, says the Education Support Partnership’s website. At Engage, we couldn’t agree more. Making a promise to yourself – perhaps even writing it down somewhere you will see it every day – will stop you from feeling guilty or reaching for the paperwork when you’re supposed to be concentrating on you. If you still feel guilty, remind yourself that your school and students will still be there when you return, and they need you to be the happiest, healthiest version of yourself too!
Many teachers use the time away from school to focus on spending time with friends and family, but for some, the holidays can be a time of isolation. For those who are new to the UK, or even for those whose friends are busy at the weekend, you may find that you have a lot of time alone with your thoughts over the summer, which can contribute to feelings of loneliness.
Whilst it can be hard to overcome feelings of confinement when you are feeling alone, we encourage you to get out of the house and try some new activities. Sometimes simply being outside (instead of stuck in a classroom all day!) can do a huge amount for your wellbeing, although we suggest taking up a new hobby, sport, or volunteering post.
You can even improve on your continued personal development over the holidays. Whilst our regular CPD programme isn’t running over the summer, you can attend our Team Teach training classes if you haven’t already, which are held on 21st-22nd August and 27th-28th August. These classes are hands-on, friendly, a lot of fun, informative, and make you a more prepared teacher all at the same time!
The worry of how to continue to support yourself over the summer holidays can be particularly distressing for some teachers. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone – 60% of teachers highlighted financial worries as a cause of stress during the end-of-year break.
Supply teachers especially can have financial difficulties over the summer. Luckily, there are many ways for a teacher to make money over the holidays, which has the added benefit of helping to flex your mind in preparation for your return to the classroom, combat isolation, and expand on your skillset.
Some of the top ways to make money over the holidays:
- Summer camp work
- Exam marking
- Selling on Ebay
For more ideas, check out our blog on making and saving money over the holidays.
Lack of autonomy
One of the things that can have a big impact on your wellbeing as a teacher, is having a lack of choice over when you take your holidays. People in other vocations get a certain amount of say in when they take their statutory leave, but having the majority of your holidays lumped together at the end of term can leave teachers feeling like they don’t have control over their professional lives. (Not to mention going straight back to work after a 6 week break can be a bit of a shock to your system, to put it lightly.)
Luckily, alongside the new Early Career Framework laid out by the DfE, commitments have been made to help teachers job share over the term time to help prevent teacher burnout and increase retention. However, until these commitments are made into reality, it’s important to prepare yourself for your return to work after the holidays.
The easiest way to prepare yourself for the new school year is to leave your paperwork and school preparation, where possible, until the end of the holidays. It might seem counterintuitive to put this work off, but saving it until the end of the holidays gives you a chance to ease yourself in. Go back to your school, prepare your classroom, and familiarise yourself with what work still needs to be done, so that when you go back to teaching you don’t feel like you’ve been thrown into the deep end.
Speak to the Education Support Partnership
If you find you’re struggling during the summer holidays, our partners at the Education Support Partnership are on hand throughout the holidays to assist. From short-term financial aid to counselling, advice, or just a friendly chat, the Education Support Partnership was created to help teachers when they need it. (Just call them at 08000 562 561.)
If you’re a teacher with Engage, you can benefit from the full Employee Assistance Programme, which includes up to six sessions of face-to-face of telephone counselling, access to online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), financial and legal information, and more.
You can find out more on the Education Support Partnership’s website. If you’d like more information on how we support our teachers throughout their career, check out the Employee Assistance Programme and all our other benefits.
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