January is Mental Wellness month. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, January is a great time to evaluate stress in your life and take action to promote a healthy mental state. This can be especially important for those of us working in a school setting. The Mayo Clinic considers those working in a “helping profession,” such as therapists, counselors, school psychologists, or teachers, to be at a higher risk for job burnout, which can include anxiety, depression, and overall elevated stress. Luckily, the effects of job burnout can be reduced or avoided. Following healthy habits to promote mental health leads to a more enriching life, both at work and at home!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Seek out professional therapy. If stress is negatively impacting your life, therapy may be a good option for you. Discussion with a professional can help you discover stressors in your life and strategies to deal with them in a healthy way. Seeing a therapist in person is often covered by health insurance. There are also other ways to talk with a professional, such as using an online service like Talkspace or BetterHelp. We of all people should understand therapy works!
Learn to prioritize tasks when you feel overwhelmed. On any given workday, we as professionals may be torn in many different directions, and it can feel that our to-do lists are never-ending. On particularly overwhelming days, it is important to figure out which tasks need to take priority. Tackle the most important tasks first, and save the rest for later. Delegate tasks to others whenever possible to keep them off your list entirely! For example, have a student helper organize your materials or run letters to teachers for you.
Practice self-care in whatever way works for you. Everyone relaxes in a different way. Whatever your way is, do it! Some people enjoy taking walks in nature, watching funny videos, meditating, or calling a friend, just to name a few options. Aim to carve out some time each day to unwind, even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes.
Create a community. Having a supportive group of colleagues is beneficial for your mental well-being. It allows you to have a place to express frustrations and turn to others for advice or empathy. Our Memphis, TN team meets monthly for social outings, and it has helped us foster a close-knit community. Try to organize some events for colleagues in your area!