Be Kind to Yourself

Sara Hedger, Head of Safeguarding & Child Protection GEMS, looks at the importance of self-care.

Sara Hedger

Moderate amounts of stress can be helpful when revising for exams or meeting deadlines, and it is a relief once you have tackled the issue. I have been watching the effect of this on my own family going through exams, and on colleagues and friends in education living through every part of their students’ journey to success.

Teachers will go to great lengths to ensure that their students succeed in their exams and are equipped to deal with anything that comes their way. Most teachers enter the profession to make a difference, and to ensure that students do as well as they can academically and emotionally, and we put ourselves under pressure to deliver.

As teachers, we celebrate the successes of our students with an attitude of ‘you did it yourself’, down-playing our influence on the outcomes for students. But we take failures personally, attributing every moment to our influence and feeling that we have also failed. Reflection is healthy; blame is not.

How do we look after our emotions at particularly stressful times?

  • Immediate coping skills
    Deep breathing exercises
    Visualisation
    Positive self-talk to calm our inner critic
  • Just for fun
    Do the things that you enjoy
    Listening to or play music
    Find time to recharge your batteries
  • Emotional well-being
    Write down what you are feeling
    Think optimistically
    Nurture a positive self-image
  • Physical nourishment
    Eat a variety of food; it can add to our negative feelings if we don’t
    Exercise
    Rest
  • Social connection
    Spend time with family, friends and pets
    Do something for someone else e.g. buy a coffee for the next person in line