Supply staff guide to managing anxiety

Returning to school this year is going to be new for everyone. You are likely to have concerns about Covid-19 and you may feel anxious because you have been away from the classroom for so long, as well as having new routines to learn.

We have devised the following top tips for education supply staff to consider in order to help manage anxiety on returning to the classroom:

  • Accept your feelings are normal, it’s the situation that is abnormal, we’ve experienced unprecedented times.
  • Stay connected and share your feelings with others; you may not be able to mix with colleagues in the staff room, but you can access online support groups, there are ones specific for supply staff in education (link to Operam Staff room Facebook group).
  • Look after your basic needs; make sure you bring drinks and food to sustain you throughout the day, that you have extra clothing for when it’s cold as windows will still need to be opened and you have access to PPE.
  • Be organised; prepare in advance where you can, it will help feel in control, including planning your route to work beforehand.
  • Remind yourself of why you went into teaching and why it is more important than ever now; research says that both pupils and parents value teachers more than ever; make you value yourself.
  • If you have specific worries, try to talk them over with someone you know will listen without being judgemental; if this is not possible then consider ringing a helpline, they are there to listen and are confidential.
  • Make the most of your down time and allow time to relax; re-energising through mediation and relaxation is more important than ever; give yourself permission to unwind and plan it into your working week as well as your weekend.
  • Get a good night’s sleep; go to bed early enough, don’t eat too late, make sure your bedroom is comfortable, avoid screen time for at least an hour or two beforehand and be mindful of alcohol intake (remember alcohol is chemically a stimulant and can therefore cause you to wake earlier than normal).
  • Try to prevent problems before they develop; ignoring an issue, simply does not work as subconsciously it can make you anxious, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. Address and deal with issues before they even become problems.