How can you protect your well-being?
In schools we squash the equivalent of a full working year, and often more, into just 39 weeks. Ask the partner of a teacher about evening and weekends during term time and they will tell a story; a story of continuous work, with not enough time for nights out, or a bit of fun until the next holiday comes along.
In recent years, a number of schools have taken the lead on developing approaches to staff wellbeing. Whether you work in one of those schools or not, there is a lot you can do for yourself. We all lead busy lives and so it’s vital we gain control and establish some sort of order and balance. This is where our 5 Minute Wellbeing Plan comes in handy, developed with @LeadingLearner.
The 5 Minute Wellbeing Plan
You’ll find our template a useful tool to help coordinate your well-being priorities. Here is a completed example of the 5 Minute Wellbeing Plan:
Let’s take a walk through each section of the plan starting with the Wellbeing Millionaire:
- Try to decide and plan how you will spend your time each week.
- If you’re not careful, work can expand to fit every waking hour. The “to-do list” will never be complete and it helps if you accept this. What time will be used for school work and what time will not be used?
- Try to have fixed times each week where you close the school bag and think about things other than work. When might you give yourself a little treat each week?
Phone a Friend:
- Keep in touch with people who are nearest and dearest to you.
- It’s easy to keep putting off that phone call; text message; Skype session, or a letter whilst you just get the next job done.
- Who do you want to stay in touch with on a regular basis and who have you not made contact with in ages?
Ask the Audience:
- Family and friends can all too easily be forgotten. In particular, your partner can be someone who spends her/his life waiting for the next school holiday; just to get some of your attention.
- Why not plan a meal or night out; a trip to the theatre or cinema with family and friends? The break will do you good and you might even enjoy it.
- It is sometimes a really great idea to book a weekend away in the middle of a half term. Three or four weeks in, a mini-break with a loved one can give you the boost you need to make it through the half term with a smile on your face. Try somewhere local – it cuts down on the travel hassles and means you can just book in for one night which keeps the cost down.
- How and when are you going to exercise each week? You need to look after your body as it is the only one you have and it is important to you and your job!
- Exercise is not only good for our bodies, it’s good for our minds. Exercise makes you feel happier alongside doing great things for your heart, general muscle-tone and helping you remain or become a healthy weight. Exercise anywhere you can!
- We hopefully all know about ‘5-a-day’. There is a danger, that when you are continually on the go, that you skip the odd meal or replace it with cakes and biscuits, grabbed over a quick break.
- Do you ever find yourself lying awake at night on a ‘caffeine high’, only to repeat the dose the following day because you feel tired? Think about you diet and pick one thing that you need to start or stop doing.
- Write it down and commit to making that change.
- Excessive alcohol; being overweight; stress and lack of sleep, are all things that we know make us unwell. If we don’t deal with these issues early on, then you will become unwell. This is not good for you; it’s not good for your family and friends and not good for your students.
- Be honest with yourself – do you have any risk factors? What are you going to do about them?
It’s an odd thing but helping others makes us feel better. Now that’s a ‘win-win’ situation. There are so many ways to help, but here are a few suggestions:
- Take part in a sponsored walk/swim/run (also ticks the exercise box).
- Go to a charity event. Give some time up one evening or at the weekend to help a local charity (a change is as good as a rest).
- Organise a charity event with your form.
- Secretly surprise a colleague with a random act of kindness.
- Take part in a Secret Santa … the list goes on.
What would you like to do to make a difference to someone else’s life?
It’s Good to Chat:
- There are times when we need to talk through challenges or stresses that we are feeling.
- On occasion, we want people to help us solve the problem and other times we just want someone to listen. It can also help us find a solution when we just verbalise the issues to someone.
- What do you need to chat about and who would be a good person to chat with? You may want to work with someone on a regular basis in a reciprocal arrangement. Good friends and good work colleagues can both make effective coaches.
Put your Worries in a Box:
- There are some times when the job just simply gets too busy! There are other times when we worry about things we can’t actually do very much about. Time to put your worries in a box.
- If you are a bit obsessive (OCD type), why not put them in date order!
- Periodically get the box out and look at your list of worries – can you now throw it away? Deal with it? Put it back in the box for another day?
Every now and then you do need to simply stop and reflect on how life is going:
- Are you walking in the direction of your dreams; or doing things that are important to you?
- Are you in a velvet lined-rut or maybe one that is a little less comfortable?
- What is giving you joy and what do you need to change?
Let’s remember that we are human beings not human doings! It’s sometimes said, that when we look back at our lives it will not be the jobs left undone that we regret, but rather the relationships that are broken or the time we didn’t spend with loved ones. The job needs to get done, but we are more likely to achieve it if we look after our own well-being. Time to stop, time to refill the reservoir!