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Many people become stressed at work at some point or another. Burn-out can occur when a sustained level of stress is present within a person. This can be due to prolonged time periods of intensity and excessive demands which leads to more energy, strength and resources being used.
Those who have a job that requires a commitment from workers who sacrifice their time and energy for others were most at risk according to a study conducted in the 1970s by Herbert Freudenberger where he coined the term “burn-out”.
Therefore, it is no wonder that teachers and everyone that works in education suffers from or is at risk of burn-out. Workload and long hours can increase the stress as well as the pressure of the current global pandemic and the immense strain it has had on the educational sector as a whole it is seeing an increase in the number of professionals leaving this sector.
- 84% percent of teachers described themselves as stressed during the 2020 Teacher Wellbeing Index.
- 51% have considered leaving their profession in the last two years.
- 68% said that their main reason for wanting to leave their profession was because of the workload.
Recognising the signs of Teacher Burn-out
Burnout takes many forms for different individuals and can cause many symptoms to occur. There are three main signs that should be made aware of when thinking you are suffering from burnout.
For teachers this can be a duo of both mental and physical exhaustion. Evidence of this may be frustration and irritability, mood swings, impaired concentration, chronic fatigue and insomnia as well as physical symptoms such as increased illness, palpitations, gastrointestinal pain, headaches and dizziness.
- Detachment from job
A person who is suffering from burnout may distance themselves from other colleagues, students and the school in general by experiencing a loss of enjoyment for things that once brought them pleasure and excitement.
- Reduced Performance
For teacher’s burnout and the earlier signs, we have discussed may lead to a negative outlook, lack of productivity and poor performance. Evidence of this may be feelings of hopelessness and apathy, low self-confidence, increased irritability with one’s self and others, increased time spent completing tasks and apathy to want to do so.
Tips to avoid Teacher Burn-out
Whilst it may be impossible to completely eliminate burnout from your profession it is definitely good practice to take action to reduce the number of stresses that can accumulate to burnout.
- Be aware of your stress levels, emotions and health
Ensuring to check in with yourself can really help with being aware of your stress levels, emotions and health. Strategies such as mindfulness and meditation and journaling can be beneficial as much as talking to others, such as colleagues and therapists.
Having awareness of burnout, stress and your own mental and physical health are invaluable to taking the time to understand yourself. This can be when you know when you have reached your limit, and it’s time to take a step back without feeling any guilt.
- Taking charge of your wellbeing
Being part of the education sector, it is helpful to remember that you are only human. As mentioned before burnout occurs when a job requires a commitment from workers who sacrifice their time and energy for others, there is only so much that one individual can do within a specific time frame.
Yet teachers still put their students before themselves, putting yourself before work is not wrong in any way. Keeping on top of your own wellbeing can help with happiness and motivation to provide the best education for your students, this proves that you have to spend time refuelling and looking after your health and wellbeing too.
Take time doing what you enjoy! As this past two years has been different and difficult to get outside and be with friends and family now is the time to schedule that time in. Plan your holidays and weekend in advance, so you’re not tempted to work and that you have something to look forward to.
- Question the impact of taking on new work.
All teachers want to do their best for their students and be good at what they do. This sometimes means that they take on more than they should.
Learning to question the purpose of new tasks and other requests can help reduce the day-to-day workload and aid you to figure out if doing these extra tasks will help in the outcome of student’s education.
Enforce your role and responsibilities and set boundaries. If you are asked to do something that is out of your roles and responsibilities, question the relation of its purpose, is it going to impact student’s learning and the time it takes to do it. If the time vs impact is limited consider alternatives and the relativeness of the task.
- Accept that sometimes you just have to say no
It is okay to admit that you can’t do something, whether it is due to timescale, a big workload or if you think that it wouldn’t have a large enough impact of student outcomes.
This can become quite the learning curve, learning to say no to yourself and others may be out of your comfort zone. However, learning to say no can be essential for your health, mind and wellbeing.
When you want the best for people around you, it can be very hard to say no to them. Consider the impact on how this can affect you personally, put your own mind and wellbeing first!
- Mental Health Days
When you start feeling that you are reaching the point of experiencing burnout, it is time to look at why…maybe you are exhausted, emotional or easily agitated in this instance take a day or two to rest and rehabilitate your mind. Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical!
- It can be really tempting to pack weekends and holidays with many activities to ensure you are entertained and don’t work them.
- It can be tempting to go to work when you have barley slept and are running on fumes.
- It can be tempting to want to spend time entertaining friends and family and keeping scheduled commitments.
But in reality, this isn’t the case sometimes you just need a break to make sure you rest and relax and feel energised to take on life.