Over the last few years growth mindset has become prevalent in schools, most schools I walk into have lovely posters often made by children in PHSE explaining growth mindset and the importance of resilience. Resilience is becoming a new buzzword in end-of-year reports; Billy’s resilience has grown so much this year! Molly has shown true resilience when overcoming obstacles in her learning. However, how often do we apply this word to the staff in schools? To my mind, it seems important that we should be modelling the mindset we want children to adopt. I’d also suggest that if the pressures on students these days require them to have a strong innate resilience I would say this is doubly so for the staff within a school!
So let’s look at how we can do this. Firstly it’s important to create self-awareness; becoming more aware of your thoughts and actions can help to notice patterns or areas for improvement. It can also help you to recognise aspects that are going well and need to be celebrated. To become more self-aware it’s important to listen to your body…how do you react to stressful situations? Do you sweat? Does your stomach churn? Do your thoughts race or do you repeatedly play one scenario? Try writing down a list of your stress symptoms and the stressors themselves.
For me: My palms itch, my stomach churns, I feel like I can’t breathe, and I start talking fast and loud.
Here is a helpful resource you can use to write down the things that trigger anxiety at work and how that anxiety manifests itself:
Once you’ve created this list you can look at ways you can take action to prevent these feelings, are there things you can put in place for yourself such as journaling or breathing techniques? It’s also important to ask yourself if some of these issues are bigger and need to be addressed with your line manager?
It can also be helpful to note these feelings the next time a triggering event occurs. Stop and repeat your list checking if you’re experiencing any other symptoms. This gives you a minute to stop and recognise your feelings which is actually more calming than you might think. It gives you a chance to reflect on what is causing the symptoms is it true, is it real, is it rational…this gives you perspective.
It’s important to focus your attention on the present moment. It stops your mind from racing ahead and going to the what-if thoughts that add additional stress to the situation. This is something that I find very hard to do as an anxiety sufferer my mind will always try to run to the what-if thoughts and it is something I constantly have to work on. One thing I find helps me in the moment is to focus on my surroundings; in my head I say the name of all the things I can see on my desks and the tasks I am going to be doing for the next 30 minutes.
It does take additional practice however for example I go for a walk every morning before I start work (sometimes it’s as short as 5 minutes, sometimes longer), I focus on my route, I notice the colours I see around me, the colour of the leaves or grass, the sound the sea is making, the feel of the wind or sun. I try to notice as many details as I can and focus only on these things. By taking the same route I then compare it, in the car on the way to work what was different from the previous day? This way my time before going into work is focused on the now not on worrying about what I might experience once I set foot in the classroom.
I also look for other chances in the day when I can practice this technique so I can get used to doing it in a busy work setting…when I’ve finished a focused task with a group of children I take a few moments to look around my class and note the sounds the children are making, the colours in the room, how busy it is etc. At lunch, I focus solely on my food; its texture and taste. I take a few moments then to practice taking 5 deep breaths noticing the effect it has on my body.
When reflecting on the day or even just a specific aspect of the day try to take a moment before judging a situation first take 3 minutes to recall the high points (there’s always something). If it’s a lesson recall the times the children were actively listening or the child who completed the task in full, the moment when you explained something really clearly. Then allow yourself to assess; it would’ve been better if…I should’ve done…I wish we’d… You might find that you don’t actually need to do this.
Journaling is a great tool to try to help boost your resilience and confidence, for me personally it’s something that I struggle to maintain with consistency. I’ll go through phases where I use it weekly and times when I don’t. Sometimes I write it down sometimes I journal through art. I used to give myself a bit of a guilt trip for not being more consistent but I’ve realised that for some journaling daily is a great way to manage their feelings for others they’ll focus on it when they need to.
Making Welling a Priority
It’s very hard for adults to prioritize their own wellbeing, we have a tendency to put our jobs and family before ourselves. However, looking after our wellbeing actually helps us to do the other stuff better, my mantra is “you can’t pour from an empty jug”. If you’re not maintaining your wellbeing, you don’t have the energy to look after the wellbeing of your family, your pupils or any of the other things you do to the best of your ability. As hard as it is make time on a regular for your wellbeing.
Hypnotherapy is a great way to build your resilience, and manage your stress levels to learn more about how hypnotherapy can help you as a teacher take a look at my Teachers and Hypnotherapy blog.