Mindfulness and meditation are unquestionably moving away from being confined to the fringes of society across the popular and corporate psyche.
With a growing number of companies realising the benefits of their employee's using mindful practice and meditation in relation to increased productivity, improved energy levels and better overall personal wellbeing. From a wide range of apps to personal development seminars and flexible working arrangements, most corporate work environments are at least beginning to warm up to these behaviours in order to improve their workplace wellbeing. However, for most educators, leaving a room filled with students to go to the bathroom is unrealistic, let alone taking a moment to perform breathing exercises or other mindful practices.
So how can teachers, the people responsible for nurturing the young minds of the future, use this important practice to boost their own productivity, energy levels and general wellbeing?
With such an emotionally and mentally demanding job, we recognise that teachers too, should be supported in the times they just need to take a moment. We put together three helpful tips which you can use to start implementing this practice into your teaching life this year.
1. Take 5 where you can
Recess and lunch are the most opportune times to check-in with yourself and perform some mindfulness exercises. Mobile apps make this really easy and within 5 minutes you might be surprised how much stress or built up tension can be released. The key to the long term success of this habit is to try and make your practice at a consistent time and frequency, in a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Once you feel as though you've got the routine down pat, feel free to incorporate this practice in your life whenever you see the opportunity or need.
The free Life Skills GO mobile app is a great place to start if you want to take the guided mindfulness approach, available for Apple iOS and Google Play, you can choose from a library of clear and easy audio resources for the times when you need to just take a moment.
2. Make mindfulness a whole class activity
As teachers, we are full-time caregivers for students and sometimes even 5 minutes at lunch or recess can be hard to come by. Luckily, we've seen incredible results through teachers performing mindfulness activities as a whole class activity, particular straight after breaks. By performing a short guided breathing activity such as this tame your brain activity, or this focused attention strategy, students and teachers together are actively improving their self-regulation skills. This results in lowered stress, improved readiness to teach or learn, and better overall sense of wellbeing.
3. Try PD which teaches mindfulness science and strategies
Thirdly, the most direct and dedicated approach to creating an atmosphere of mindfulness-supported wellbeing in your school is to undertake Professional Development (PD). In particular PD which teaches the knowledge and skills so that teachers feel confident and supported in their own self-regulation ability and feel empowered to prioritise their own wellbeing. This level of support is quite often already active between peers in the teaching community - however we want to provide teachers the ultimate breadth of knowledge and skills to overcome and thrive under adversity; rather than just managing through challenges.
It's encouraging to see the fast and wide-ranging adoption of mindfulness and other social emotional learning skills into our schools and workplaces. And by using one or all of these three strategies with consistent practice, improvement of your productivity, confidence and social, emotional wellbeing is inevitable.