Wellbeing Month – Work/life Balance

This month I started the very first Teacher Wellbeing Week in my FB group ‘The Teachers’ Tribe’ (join here if you haven’t already https://mailchi.mp/76e1652adad4/wellbeingweek).

Each month I am going to bring you a week of information, videos and fun things on a topic to do with wellbeing, and then for the rest of the month, we will continue the journey together.

Why? Because teacher wellbeing matters, and it is more than just yoga and herbal tea.

This month we are focusing on work/life balance, with the first 7 days of the month being a work/life balance intensive. Here is part of what I have shared so far…

Work/life balance in the teacher space is often a dream, a utopia, an untouchable space. We dream of never taking work home, of having work-free weekends and time to ourselves, oh we dream! But here’s this thing… this doesn’t have to be a dream, it can be real.

Work/life balance is sold to us in a way which makes us think work is for work and home is for home, and if we don’t have this than we don’t have work/life balance. Now, what I am about to say may shock you, but this just isn’t the case. Work/life balance doesn’t have to look like this at all. It is absolutely not the only version of what work/life balance looks like, and if it isn’t possible for you, then stop chasing it. That’s right, STOP!

So what can you do instead?

Well instead, you need to write your journey of work/life balance. You need to decide what it looks like to you, what you can achieve and what fits in with your already crazy life.

So, what does work/life balance look like to you?

Only you can decide this, and there is certainly not a right or wrong answer, only one that works for you. All that matters is that you are happy with it.

Something to keep in mind is that work/life balance will look different each day. No day is the same which means you need to be prepared for each day to be a little different. Maybe one day you achieve balance by getting to the gym, maybe one day it’s not taking work home, and on the weekend it’s a sleep in and work-free day.

Keep this in mind when thinking about how you want work/life balance to be. Make sure you set goals in this space that are achievable. No point trying to achieve balance by planning to get to the gym by 5pm when you have a staff meeting that day, or working on nutrition and healthy eating but no time to cook or plan healthy meals.

Make sure you choose things which are easy and something you can do now. This doesn’t have to be every day, sometimes we just can’t do that, but do try put time aside for the balance part a few times a week, the life bit will just happen on its own.

Don’t wait until you retire to start that hobby you have always wanted to take up…

Whenever older staff are retiring, or the conversation of not working comes up, I am instantly one to put my hand up to say I 100% would be OK with doing this now. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work, but the idea of not working and being able to take up all of the hobbies I dream of doing sounds great to me!

But here’s the thing, why wait until I retire to do the things I want to do?The Teachers' Coach

I have been a bit up and down lately (let’s just blame this on normal work and life stress) and when working with my coach (because we should all have one), she asked me what I do for creativity, as an expression of me, where my juices flow… well, nothing really, I thought.

To be honest this shocked me. I am someone who loves being creative and crafty, I always took an art class at school and I love to doodle and draw my way through meetings and PL. What I realised though, is that I have absolutely let this part of me go, or rather, put on hold.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, just something that has happened over time, as life got busy, routine took over, along with longer work hours and trying to balance everything out, my creative outlets have completely disappeared.

Growing up you would find me in my room after school dabbling in all kinds of things; jewellery making, drawing, sewing, baking, knitting, painting… I even painted a giant sun mural on my wall when I was about 15.

Now though, I just don’t do anything. I have tried a few times to get back into it, but this more often than not results in me taking some kind of class, buying all the resources to do this at home, where unfortunately the items just become dust collectors and never reach their full potential.

I have a cupboard full of silicone bakeware from the time I was going to take up vegan baking, a selection of rope from the time I did a macramé class and was going to make something extravagant for my wall, and a bag of stones I collected from the beach from the time I was going to make some stone art for family, and this is all in the last 18 months.

I think I need a hobby!

I mean, I actually need to take up and do one of the hobbies I have started…
I don’t need to wait until I retire to take these things up, what I need to do is make them part of my weekly routine NOW!

I am aware of all the great things having a hobby can do for you, yet for some reason, I think these don’t apply to me. I am wrong though. I need a creative outlet just as much as you do.

So here I am committing to taking up macramé and stone art (I’ll leave the baking this time). Watch this space, there are some cool things coming your way soon!!!

Make time for you – 5 easy ways to start now!

Time for you is just as important as the time you give anyone else.

NEVER FORGET THIS.

Just 20 – 30 minutes a day of self-care a day is enough to allow you to press pause on the outside world, connect in and re-energise in order to keep going.

I reluctantly use the phrase ‘keep going’, but it is what so many of us tell ourselves; ‘just keep going’. So we do. We just keep going, and before we know it, we are more tired than normal, unable to cope with even the most basic tasks, making little errors that we normally wouldn’t, snapping at family and friends, becoming emotional and eventually not coping at all. We have all been here.

Spending time taking care of you is what allows you to move beyond this, and rather than keep going, you keep living.

Not sure how to spend those 30 minutes? Here are 5 things to do now that are about taking care of you, help connect with your soul and allow you to live in a positive and flourishing way.

 

  1. Spend time in nature

The outdoors, fresh air, sunshine and living things are known to boost the happy chemicals in your brain, as well as give you a sense of calm. Go for a walk, find a nice park and sit on a bench and breathe in the fresh air, watch the sunrise or set. Take yourself outside and let nature do its work, it is a natural and free resource waiting for you.

  1. Journal

Our brain can be one big complicated mess sometimes. It can have us thinking, saying and doing things that we don’t even realise or that later we may not be so happy with. Journaling is a great tool to get deep into the layers of our brain and thinking space to discover what is really going on. Take a pen and write. Ask yourself these questions:

What is going on for me right now?

What is bothering me the most?

How would I like it to be?

What changes can I make right now?

How will this make me feel?

  1. Smile

Smile. Laugh. Share a joke. The simple act of smiling is infectious and known to boost your mood, reduce stress and can very quickly change your start. The beauty of this is that it also has ripple effects which last long after the initial smile.

  1. Have a hobby

A hobby. Something you do just for you, that bring you joy, is not connected to work, and something that you 100% choose and enjoy. Painting, getting lost in a great novel, gardening, hiking, knitting, anything that is just for you. Hobbies are ways to reduce stress, improve mood and allow you to get out of your comfort zone by doing something you enjoy and taking you away from the business if the day.

  1. Do nothing

Yes, nothing. No playing on social media, no TV, no book. NOTHING. A cup of tea or your favourite drink and do nothing. Why? Because at times our body needs space to heal, to escape the chaos of life, to just be. Use this time to sit and be. If you find your mind wanders too much, use some calming music to help you, some meditation music, or try a guided meditation to assist in calming your mind and to get in the space of nothing.

 

There you have it. My 5 tips for taking care of you for 20-30 minutes a day. Start with one of these, and if every day is too much right now, try every other day, and build up from there. You deserve it.

I’d love to know what other self-care tips you have too. Let me know via my FB page https://www.facebook.com/amygreentheteacherscoach/ 

What you need to know before we begin semester 2!

With the first half of the year over, it is a great time to reflect on the year so far, as well as begin to think about the next half.

At this time if the year though, it is common to hear teachers comment thing like: 
‘OMG, the year is half over!”
‘Where did that half of the year go?’
‘I feel like we have hardly achieved anything!’
‘I have so much to do in the next 2 terms!’

And yes, this is all true. The year goes quick, it can feel like we haven’t done much at all and like there is way more to do than we can fit into the rest of the year. In fact, if you are new to teaching, you need to know this is how you will feel every year, and if you are an experienced teacher, well, here we are again.
At this time of year though, I like to take some time to acknowledge what has been done, and also set some new goals for the rest of the year.

So, as you read this, I want you to pause, grab a pen and paper and write 5 things you have achieved so far this year already…. DO IT NOW!

There is always something to celebrate; the new reading approach you started, having all your books marked on time for student feedback, getting reports in on time (finally), actually committing to your wellbeing and not doing work on weekends…

I promise you, you can find 5 things, and if you haven’t done it, do it NOW!

Next step, let’s think about the second half of the year.
What are your new goals?
What do you want to learn about?
What do you want to try next?

The best way to decide on your new goal is to ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What challenges have you had that you want to improve?
  2. What area do you want to stretch yourself in?

Now, as most teachers do, there will be a list with, let’s be honest, more on it than you can do, so here is my advice. Pick 2 goals for the remainder of the year. 1 for school, and one for home.
Focus on these, do these well, and commit to having these embedded by the end of the year.

It is having goals that keep us focused and moving forward, it can also help with the overwhelm we all face. We can’t avoid the pressures from outside, which come from whole school or government initiatives, but we can give ourselves something to focus on which we have chosen too. This will give you joy in moments of frustration, something to always come back to and a real sense of accomplishment once you tick these goals off.

 

I’d love to know what your goals are, let me know by commenting on this blog or sharing in our FB Group ‘The Teachers’ Tribe’

Holiday Reading – My top 5 non-fiction book must reads!

For those of you who don’t know, I am an avid reader. I love to read and try to do this daily. From fiction to non-fiction, a good novel or the latest self-help book, reading is a must. I am also known to have more than one book on the go at a time too, which means reading a book the whole way through can take a bit of time… but I am totally OK with that!
Reading should not be one of those laborious tasks where you feel compelled to read every word front to back, even though you are not enjoying it. I was once told books are great tools if you take from them what you need, and stop when you have exactly that. Sometimes this is a whole book, especially a great novel, with non-fiction that might be is a few chapters at the start and then whatever else is of interest to me as I flick through the chapters.
With this approach, I can read more than 1 book at a time, and read quite a few books each year. It also means I have books for entertainment and enjoyment and books for learning. The key is to know what you like to read and when you like to read it. For me, non-fiction is great in the morning or throughout the day and novels are a leisure activity I enjoy in the evening and before bed.
For now, though, I am recommending my top 5 non-fiction books. Why? Because non-fiction books, I believe, are an overlooked way of supporting each other. These books have done wonders for me, and I think they will for you too.
If you are looking for a book, here a 5 I have enjoyed lately which may also be enjoyed by you too.

1.    The One Thing – Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
This book is a great quick read for those of you who need help defining what to focus on and which tasks need competing. It looks at goal setting and how to use this to help you with what you need to do now. I also found this same method can be broken down and applied to yearly and weekly tasks.
 
2.    Atomic Habits – James Clear
As humans, we so often do things without even knowing. In this Book, James Clear looks at habits and how as humans we are constantly acting out our habits with little to no awareness of how they are impacting our life, creating a barrier for us or how one small change of habit can have a big impact with ongoing ripples.
If you are stuck moving forward or have a goal you haven’t been able to achieve, this book will help you to identify and make changes to those pesky habits you didn’t even know where there.
 
3.    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a… – OK. So the title may be a little off-putting, but the book its self has some hidden gold. If you are someone who finds it hard to let go of things, constantly worries about what others may say, do or think or spend most of your time making decisions and doing things so others will be happy while you suffer, get your hand on this book and start reading now!

4.    Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
Fear holds us back from doing so many things. It hides in ways we don’t even know and is so sneaky it will surprise you when you realise it is there. This book is great if you have a sneaking suspicion fear is stopping you from doing something in your life; the classroom, your health, confidence, anything. With an insight into the science of fear and also how to overcome it, this is a must read for everyone.
5.    Dare to Lead – Brene’ Brown
In her newest title, Brene’ talks about leadership, and how this links to us as leaders. As teachers, we all play a leadership role in one capacity or another. The leader of our students, leading a team, taking the lead of planning, leading a staff meeting or leading other teachers. Everyone can learn something from this book (actually any Brene’ Brown book is a must read).
 
Read one, read all or read none. Great books aren’t; going anywhere so make the time to read what you can when you can. Reading is self-care, self-love and showing self-worth. Make this a part of your holiday, you are worth it.

Happy Reading!

I have been slack with my blog, because, well, life happens… and it’s OK

Sometimes Life happens…

I have been a bit slack on the blog front lately, I am not sure why, I was in a really good routine with this, then life happened, and I lost it.

It can happen that easily. We are onto a good thing, weeks or even months can pass and we don’t skip a beat, then all of a sudden life happens, we lose our routine, pick up bad habits and are back right where we started. So what do you do?


Well, first of all, know life does happen, because you are, after all, only human, which means you never really know what may come your way. As fast as it took for Harry Potter to be scared with a lightning bolt for life, we can lose all routing and things we thought we had control over. Just like that.

Now don’t beat yourself up about it. I’m not. I mean the first step to getting back on track is having an awareness that things have gone sideways, and let’s be honest, my blog writing certainly has. But here I am, picking myself up, and getting back into it.

You see, when life does happen, we need to go with it. Ride the waves. But as soon as we are back with two feet on the ground it is time to reassess and get back into it, which means for me Thursday is Blog Day – No Matter What!!!

We have all had good intentions before, mine with a blog every Thursday, which did last a good few months, to be more active, lose weight, read for 20 minutes a day (another one I am working on), give more time to family, be a better listener, stay calm when life doesn’t go according to plan, but we also all know that it just doesn’t happen like this, and that is OK!

Now you know that, you can let it be. Now that doesn’t mean stop forever, it just means let go of the guilt of letting it go in the first place, and when you are ready, get back to it. Or maybe not even when you are ready, but when you can.

If we always wait until we are ‘ready’ then it may never some, ‘ready’ leaves too much time and space for ‘I’m not ready’. This is just your ego keeping you safe. Instead, ask yourself ‘Can I now….’. If the answer is yes, do it. No but’s, maybes or when I am ready. Just do it.


Life happens. We fall off the track sometimes. It is getting back on though that we must commit to.
So here I am, committing to a blog every Thursday, just for you, so keep an eye out and make sure you keep reading them.

5 Tips to Getting Organised and Improving Your Well-Being

‘I can’t find my folder’
‘Where are those worksheets’
‘I totally forgot about this meeting’
‘I just don’t have time to write my reports…’
Sound like you?
Being organised is not just something you should try and get on top of, it is actually a skill to master.
Being organised is totally underrated, and something teachers would benefit from being taught at university. The more organised you are, the better your wellbeing is. Wellbeing is actually linked to how you live your life, and part of that is being organised. You see, being unorganised can put you in a constant state of panic and stress, it can make you feel rushed and overwhelmed and you can often feel like you are behind in your work.
Why?
Because being unorganised means you can’t find things, you waste time looking for things and then don’t have time for other tasks, you don’t have systems to help store things like your assessment and worksheets and your desktop is messy.
How is this linked to wellbeing? Well, if you are constantly looking for things, feeling rushed or overwhelmed and in a state of chaos, so is your mind. Your mind reflects your environment and your behaviour.
Feeling stressed? Your mind takes this on. Feeling rushed? Your mind takes this on. Feeling unorganised?
Your mind takes this on. You can’t improve your wellbeing if you mind is messy, chaotic and unorganised. So if you are looking to improve your wellbeing, get organised.

5 Tips to Getting Organised and Improving Your Well-Being

1. Tidy up your desktop and ‘My Documents’ folder. If you open your laptop and look at chaos, you are telling your mind to get in chaos, and also wasting time looking for that document you can never find.

2. Implement a filing system for your worksheets; completed, to be used and to be finished. Take it one step further and order your ‘to be used’ worksheets in order of use. Sounds simple I know, but imagine how much time it will save if you know exactly where that worksheet is.

3. Keep all your assessment in one place and record your data as it happens. Sick of looking for your assessment, or adding in data in one big bulk at the end of the term? Well, record it and file it as soon as you can. That way you have the information you need in a timely manner and can respond it straight away, and you know where to find the data when you need it.

4. Set a regular time aside to tidy your classroom and desk. I know this may sound silly, but your classroom and desk can quickly resemble a kids playpen if you don’t stay on top of it. Tidy your desk each day before you leave so you are coming in each morning to a tidy, organised desk, and make sure to regularly clean your classroom.

5. Write down everything and keep a list.
In a busy day, which is every teaching day, we have so much to do, remember, and well, do. It is easy to get in the car at the end of the day only to realise you didn’t do that 1 essential thing and have to go back into your classroom and do the forgotten task. Avoid this at all costs by keeping a list of to do’s (I personally have one for school and one for home), carry it with you, write EVERYTHING on it, when you have time to get things done look at the list and do the next most essential thing, not the easiest, then cross I off and keep going.

These things will not only make your day easier but also ripple into improving your well-being. Why? Because you won’t feel as stressed, and chaotic, as overwhelmed or as unorganised, which means your mind will be calmer, more settled and you should feel happier, meaning your wellbeing has improved. Yay!

Feeling Emotional?

Emotions aren’t as they seem.

Emotions are energy. Emotions shape our world, our reality, our life. They are there to assist you and help you to feel a certain way when an event occurs and as you go throughout your day.

There are more emotions to feel then we realise, yet we often only use the same emotions over and over; happy, sad, angry, frustrated, annoyed, pleased, excited, neutral. This is pretty much the list of emotions we engage in on a daily or weekly basis.

But here’s the thing, emotions are our choice. Emotions are something we are taught to do, to feel, to experience, and often we only know and engage in a small number of emotions, which means this is how we often feel and this is where we stay.

Ever wondered why 2 people can experience the same thing, and one person can be a little annoyed and another can be furious?

Well, it is the way they respond to the event that causes them to feel this way.

There is a theory or this called E+R=O; Event + Response = Outcome (I learnt this from TCI, not sure where it comes from).

What this means is, it is not the event that causes how we feel, or the outcome it is our response to the event that influences the outcomes.

Whilst we can’t always control the event, we can certainly control our response, which in return affects the outcome.

Now before you tell me there is no way you could feel anything but furious when your partner is late for dinner, or that feeling annoyed about the extra meeting that has occurred this week is the only appropriate response, I want you to ask yourself, is this the only way to feel? And, would everyone else feel the same as you? The answer to both of these questions is no.

People choose to feel differently all the time, even about the same situation. The power in this is, those who understand that emotion and feeling is a choice, have more control over their lives, and essentially allow more positivity and happiness to be part of their day.

Why?

Because these people know being frustrated, annoyed or furious at something that was out of their control is a waste of their energy, and actually gets them o where.

Now don’t get me wrong, yes it can be annoying when your partner is later for dinner, and an extra meeting can be frustrating too, but it doesn’t mean you have to take in this emotion and carry it with you into other areas of your life.

So what do you do the?

Well, when an event happens, ask yourself how you feel, acknowledge your first emotion, but ask yourself, is it worth me feeling this way? (the answer is probably no), how else could I choose to feel? What would this mean? How would this make me feel instead? How would things be different?

Try this, try choosing different emotions.

You can choose your emotion, you can choose how you feel. You can choose to be positive and happy.

It’s OK Not To Be Happy All The Time

Being happy all the time is a myth. Being happy all the time isn’t something that everyone needs to aim for all of the time. Yes, we want to be happy but it’s unreasonable to expect happiness to be the only emotion we feel.

We have a range of emotions as humans so that we can experience things on all kinds of levels. If we were just happy all the time we’d only experience happy things, things that make us happy: joy, love, all of the things that bring you a smile. But this just isn’t the case.

Life can throw all kinds of things at you. Just when you think you’re on the rollercoaster of happy, something can be thrown your way and all of a sudden you can find yourself plummeting down.  Down fast, down to the bottom, where you are filled with emotions that you just don’t want to feel.

Experiencing all the emotions are a part of life. Being 100% is actually allowing yourself to feel all of the different emotions. By giving yourself permission to feel sad when you’re sad, angry when you’re angry, hurt when your hurt, disappointed when you’re disappointed, frustrated when you’re frustrated, you’re allowing yourself to be human.

Yet too often, many of us are taught that the only way to feel is happy.

Unfortunately, what this does is it makes us chase an emotion which sometimes just doesn’t serve us.

It’s important to feel different things in different ways for different reasons. How do you know what happiness really is if you don’t experience the other side?

You can’t experience cold without hot, you can’t experience sunrise without sunset, you don’t have Ying without Yang or salt without pepper, and you can’t have happy without all the other emotions as well.

So why is it so hard to feel these emotions?

At some point in time, you may have been told only babies cry, or that it’s a sign of weakness, that being angry is OK but sad isn’t and the being disappointed just isn’t worth it. If any of these sound familiar, or you can even think of your own examples, it is likely that these things you were once told, or even shown (which means you probably have no idea it even impacted you), dramatically impact the emotions you allow yourself to experience now. You see emotions are a choice, and we can change them when needed, but suppressing them or not allowing them to be heard first, only causes us more pain and discomfort.

So here is the challenge, I want you to feel all your emotions. Allow yourself to have them come naturally, give yourself time, space and presence to be with them, then ask yourself the following questions:

What emotion do I feel?

Why do I feel this way?

What am I learning by feeling this emotion?

What am I getting out of feeling this way?

Is this real?

How do I want to feel?

Could I change my emotion?*

These questions are designed to get you in touch with your emotions, to have you consciously check in with yourself and bring awareness to how you feel.

(*The last question is the next step, I’ll do a follow-up blog on this next week)

Remember, as you go through this process, be kind to yourself, anything that makes us more mindful of self can be challenging, confronting and sometimes bring up other things we didn’t know where hidden deep within us, if this is you, let it be and see what else you can learn about yourself from this.

If this is something you would like to explore further, please do get in touch, and we can work on this together.

Only You Decide Your Self Care and Well-being

There is so much talk about self-care at the moment.

Self-care Sunday is booming, mindful Monday and soul Saturday are close behind; but really, what all this boils down to, is taking care of yourself, putting yourself first and honouring yourself enough to know that you need to put you first, pressing pause on life when you feel you can’t go on, and actually making time to look after you just as much as you do others.

Yoga, walks on the beach, meditation, massage, drinking herbal tea and self-help books, these seem to be what is most recommended as a means of self-care, but actually, for what it is worth, I don’t agree that this is for everyone.

Self-care isn’t just yoga and deep breathing while you watch the sunset, it is so much more, actually, it is whatever you want it to be. 

No one can decide your self-care, it is simply doing whatever it is for you, whatever helps you relax, tune out, feel less stressed, enjoy life and have fun. This can actually be done in so many ways. For some people, it is yoga (me included), for my partner it is 3-hour cycle  (I couldn’t think of anything worse and he hates yoga). For my brother, it is playing Dungeons and Dragons (OK this might be worse than a 3hr cycle), my other brother is learning bass guitar and my BFF is all about a whole day of binging on Netflix. All of these things, as different as they are, and as unique to the person they might be, are all self-care. My point is, self-care is actually whatever you want it to be.

Reading, craft, hiking, reading a book, mani-pedis, playing a team sport; just about anything at all, as long as it is good for your soul, clams you down, relaxes you, helps you with overwhelm and stress and just makes you feel better, is self-care.

As long as what you do doesn’t hurt or harm others in any way, what you choose to do is up to you. BUT… if you are shopping to make yourself feel better and have money issues this is not self-care, if you are continually eating high-sugar processed foods to comfort you, this is not self-care, if you are watching hours of TV each night because you are tired or stressed, this is also not self-care. Your self-care has to be GOOD for you, good for your soul and good for those around you. Spending money you should be saving is not good, eating rubbish food is not good, lazing on the couch for hours is not good. You must choose your self-care with this is mind.

Once you know what self-care is for you, don’t wait for your day to be rubbish to try it, or for you to feel super stressed or overwhelmed before you do anything, the trick is to build self-care into your day and weekly plan. Schedule it in just like you schedule in time for coffee with friends and family dinner on Sunday night; you are important too, so schedule you in.

Once you have scheduled in regular time for your self-care, you will find that you are reaping the benefits more than you thought you would and that your days may not be as stressful as they used to be. Self-care is about filling your cup first, and when you do this, you will have much more to give to others.