Managing your mental health as a TEFL Teacher

Teachers are often faced with multiple expectations. As a result, they are more likely to prioritise the mental health and well-being of others over their own. However, teachers must prioritise their mental health and welfare for the benefit of themselves and the entire school community.

Teachers’ mental health and wellbeing activities should be prioritised. Teachers can improve and maintain their wellness by incorporating self-care activities such as physical activity, catching up with friends, and creating limits around work. 

As schools reopen after the pandemic, it’s critical to prioritise and commit to caring for your mental health and well-being, as this will help you have more positive energy for yourself, your kids, and their families. Here are a few suggestions to help you succeed!

teaching in class

Prioritize self-care 

Try to stick to the basics as much as possible, such as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and limiting your caffeine and alcohol usage.  Self-care, like everything else in life, should be on your mental “to do” list. You can’t accomplish everything, but self-care is essential, so be honest with yourself about the things that aren’t essential and move them lower on your priority list to make room for self-care. You may need to say “No” to a co-worker who is asking you for extra help. 

Every day, make a list of things you’re grateful for and lessons you’ve learned. Even though the obstacles are challenging, you do this job for a reason, and the reasons why teaching and working with young people is so appealing maybe even more important now.

Get yourself organised

Financial management, keeping your house or office clean and organised, and creating calendars aren’t typically discussed in self-care discussions. But consider it, particularly if you teach from home. When chores are disorganised, stress levels increase. When managing the necessities of daily life is difficult, when will you find time to relax?

Finding the most effective strategies to keep your life in order, whether it involves spreadsheets, closet organisers, a rotating cleaning routine, or planning meals in advance for the entire week, is vital in self-care.

Get your body moving

Physical activity is effective stress and anxiety reliever. You can feel more energised during the day, sleep better at night, have more explicit memories, and feel more relaxed and happy about yourself if you exercise often. Helping you to manage your mental health. Even 10 minutes of brisk walking can improve our mood and give us a huge sense of well-being if you don’t have time to go to the gym every day, play with your kids or organise a dance party when you’re done with your lessons.

woman living abroad

Set healthy boundaries

You know better than anybody that teaching requires working irregular hours — evenings and weekends – to prepare lesson plans, grade school work, catch up on e-mail, and other duties. Many dedicated teachers let work spill over into their personal life at unhealthy levels. Setting appropriate limits for yourself and sticking to them is more crucial than ever. Schedule time to be “off the clock” in the same way you schedule time for self-care. To safeguard your time, you might need to be tough about the “office hours” you designate for students or parents. Remind yourself that you are only one person with limited control over everything and that education is a team effort.

Do something fun on your time off!

Most of us have ideas of things we’d like to do for enjoyment and relaxation in our spare time.  Think about something new you’d think you might like to try. Do you want to learn to bake bread, read a new book, take a yoga class,  or go for a stroll somewhere new with the time you have?  Keep it simple and manageable. Choose a couple of activities that you’ll enjoy doing regularly and that you can fit into your schedule. By incorporating these simple and enjoyable activities into your life it will help you “switch off” after your workday and will also give you something to look forward to during your day!

Take your breaks

You are a person, not a machine that can run continuously! If you teach from home and have other family members who need care, you may need to get creative about how you fit in breaks. However, even 10-15 minutes of relaxation or mental clearing can help. Take a walk around your block, close your eyes and turn off the lights in your room, then listen to a 10-minute meditation on your phone or computer. You can even take a power nap if your conditions are favourable. The idea is to include it in your daily routine. Including many short breaks can be beneficial.

Consider what helps you relax and cope with stress – whether it’s playing with your kids, taking a stroll, talking to friends, caring for your plants, reading a book, or trying a new dish. Allow yourself some time to unwind. These pursuits are just as vital as your working hours. Allowing yourself to feel energised is the key.

Teaching english online

Talk to friends, family and co-workers

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling with your mental health, talk to another teacher, friend, or family member about it. Identify a group of people with who you can be honest and open about your feelings if possible. You can ask for different things from different people. If you can talk about your concerns with your boss or senior staff, they may be able to understand and become part of your support system. It can greatly help if you can get your employees to adopt the same messages of nurturing and reconnection that you do with pupils.

Once a day or once a week, try to plan a check-in. This can be a good method for you to encourage one another and talk about similar problems you’re having, such as how to alter education plans or how to respond to parent contacts and concerns. Sharing your grievances with a trusted colleague, in addition to discussing possible solutions to issues, may assist to relieve some of your stress. These check-ins don’t have to be confined to work-related subjects; many people are now grappling with work/life balance.

Seek support if needed 

A formal consultation is sometimes extremely important. A colleague or more senior mentor in your role as a teacher may be able to help you work through a specific work issue. When sadness, anxiety, or stress start to interfere with work and life regularly. Making an appointment with a mental health professional may be incredibly beneficial.

If you have signs of sadness, anxiety, or burnout, there is always support available to you. Fatigue and sleep problems, rapid heart rate and breathing, a sense of danger, changes in appetite and weight loss, hopelessness, persistent headaches and pain, and digestive issues that do not improve are all major signs of depression, anxiety, burnout, and other mental health problems that require specialised mental health attention. If left untreated, these symptoms can prohibit you from living a happy and active life. Recognizing these indicators and obtaining medical or psychological care is the first step toward feeling better and maybe avoiding additional major medical problems.

having a discussion

Some people are unsure where to begin when it comes to mental health. These five categories are a good place to start. Even the busiest of lifestyles can benefit from connecting with others, learning, giving, being physically active, and increasing awareness. It makes sense for schools to encourage everyone, including instructors, to take care of their mental health.

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The TEFL course you choose all depends on your needs and goals. Look at the course content included on each course page and see if it aligns with who, where and how you want to teach. If you want to teach young learners in a classroom, for example, you’ll want to make sure the course covers that. 

An accredited 120 Hour TEFL course is the quickest route to becoming TEFL qualified. On the other hand, a Level 5 diploma is ideal if you want more in-depth training. It’s also important to choose a course from a reputable TEFL provider for quality training and support.

Still unsure? Complete The TEFL Institute’s free English Level Test, which has been designed to help you make this important decision. 

If you’re looking for a professional globally recognised TEFL qualification, you should consider an online Level 5 TEFL course. These professional courses are Ofqual UK government regulated and assessed at the same level as the CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL. 

Level 5 courses give you at least 180 hours of TEFL training – more than the minimum required. As it’s a higher level course, you’ll have access to more competitive roles and salaries.

We recommend that you are over 16 years old before you start a TEFL course. If you’re looking for jobs abroad, the age requirement is 18 years old or older. 

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