Supporting your own mental health
We cultivate well-being when we feel socially connected, physically strong and self-aware, and we can regulate our emotions. Being responsive to the needs of students when your own needs are not met can be a challenge. So it’s important to check in with yourself regularly and take steps to stay connected, engage in physical activities, reflect on how you show up as an educator, and practise being emotionally centred. This will look different for everyone and could include taking a few slow, mindful breaths, stepping outside for a few minutes, or debriefing with a colleague.
Educators are in an excellent position to model health-promoting strategies for their students!
How do you take care of your own mental health? What change in your personal or professional life would have the most positive impact on your well-being? Record your response using Take Notes or another format of your choice.
Six ways to improve your mental health
This activity is a fun way to bring awareness to areas where you’re doing well, as well as those where there are opportunities to improve your mental health.
(Adapted from the Canadian Mental Health Association, B.C. Division: https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/improving-mental-health/)
Activity: Using your senses to be mindful
Teaching children how to pay attention to the present moment with an open, curious state of mind can help them better manage worries and anxiety reactions. Research shows that when practised regularly, mindfulness has many benefits for children, including increased focus and attention and more positive social interactions. Having children use their senses is an easy way to practise mindfulness with them.
Try this: Find a comfortable, seated position. Take a few deep breaths to focus your attention on the present moment. Then use your senses to identify:
- five things you can see
- four things you can feel
- three things you can hear
- two things you can smell
- one thing you can taste
What happened? Were you able to stay focused on your senses, or did your thoughts take you out of the present moment every few seconds? Staying focused is difficult, because our thoughts and the things around us are distracting. The goal is to be able to notice when this happens and gently bring attention back to the present. Practising regularly makes it easier. Consider including this strategy in your action plan.