Because I specialise in working with teachers and other educational professionals, the majority of my clients and contacts are far from twiddling their thumbs at the moment.
For the writers and editors work is mainly carrying on as usual, for now at least. (Though I am aware of some whose projects have been postponed indefinitely). For the teachers and trainers, some were already working online, and others are scrambling to learn or polish online teaching skills.
For those who have suddenly lost their income this might seem a good problem to have, but my sense is that a lot of educators still working may be pushing themselves towards burnout.
There’s a feeling that if you are still making money, you’d better do as much as you can now, and/or a strong desire to do the very best by students struggling to study effectively from home.
In addition, pretty much everyone is under far more stress than usual, just worrying about health, family, and the general state of the world. As a result we are all fairly constantly receiving hits of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones). If this isn’t released- and lack of exercise doesn’t help here either- this builds up and will negatively impact our mood, sleep, physical health and, ironically, our immune system.
Balance out the stress response
To balance things out, it is essential that we consciously take time each day to look after ourselves. Working from home, especially if you don’t have a set routine, or place to work, or you’re trying to work around the kids, can lead to you never really switching off. Even in the evenings, you’re fitting in a few emails, or coming up with lesson ideas, or teaching yourself how to use a new online tool. But if you don’t switch off, the stress response will build and build, and the research backs this up.
It’s important to both take time out during the working day, and to have an end to the working day, after which you relax. In terms of short breaks during the day, ten minutes is fine (plus a proper lunch break). Walk around, have a dance (make the most of not being in an office), meditate or sit outside if you can. Doing this helps to stop the accumulation of more and more stress, which is then hard to release later on.
In the evening, decide on a finish time well before bedtime and stick to it. And then don’t sneak in work under the guise of relaxation. Is your ‘flicking through a magazine’, really ‘looking for lesson ideas’? In addition I would advise avoiding the news and media during this time, or having conversations, however well-intentioned, about the coronavirus, as this will also stimulate stress hormones, particularly at the moment.
Think about what you find truly relaxing and absorbing, and see it as a necessary prescription to ward off the impact of all the stress, and avoid burnout. Even if you aren’t usually very good at giving yourself time, do it now. You owe it to yourself and those who love you.