How Mindful Movement is Changing Educator Wellness

 
 
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Today, on World Mental Health Day, where raising awareness around mental health is not only encouraged but desperately needed, Yoga Foster is paving the way for educators and their wellbeing.

Currently, nearly 40-50% of educators leave their jobs after less than five years. This high turnover has a ripple effect not only on educators, but their students, schools, and districts.

Educator burnout can be a slow process, building up over years of teaching more hours than they are meant to, being underpaid, and meeting increasingly stringent testing standards. Educators are often left listless, depleted, and a decreased ability to cope. (LPI Report, 2016)

Teaching mindful movement not only provides an opportunity for kids to play and move. It offers a pause for educators. A moment to breathe, to check in, and to move.

We asked several of our educators across the country how teaching mindful movement has impacted their own mental wellbeing. Here’s what they said:

How has teaching mindful movement to your students impacted your own mental health?

Teaching mindful movement has had an incredible impact on my own mental health. I am more aware now than I ever was before about what my body is telling me. I recognize when I need a break and allow myself to have it. I am able to reset after something stressful quicker than I’ve ever been able to. I’m able to process through stressful situations with my students better because I have tools to help them, which makes it have less of an impact on me and my mental health. - Abbie, Janesville, WI

What are your go to tools for wellness during the school day? How about at home?  

At school I use an essential oil roller blend I make and sell called reset and recharge. It uses lavender, tangerine, lemon, and spearmint and is the perfect way to get recharged at school. At home, I try to decompress with yoga and self-care time. - Monica, New York, NY

My breath is my anchor. I do a lot of belly breathing and use various breath techniques to regulate myself. For the kids, I lean on the breathing ball, pinwheels, bubbles, the mindfulness bell, and various animal breaths. My own kids created a mindful movement area in our home and we have yoga mats on every level. We love the Calm App too, especially the sleep stories! - Jasmine, Milton, WI

Allowing myself to be present. I was someone who was always on the next task, but now I’m really mindful of the moment I am in, and it keeps me grounded. I also make sure I am connecting with people as needed. I am fortunate that my coworker is across the hall, so if I feel overwhelmed and other strategies don’t work, I just pop over and say I need a quick break. Being in tune with your mind and body is important, but actually listening and doing something about it is what makes the difference.

What challenges do you face as an educator in supporting your own mental health? 

Money. It can be really difficult to find the resources I want and can afford. Sometimes I wish I could travel more to help with my mental health. That said, I’ve been working to create free and donation yoga classes for NYC educators like myself.  Monica, New York, NY

Time and energy. There is never enough time and by the end of the day, it is hard to take time for yourself, especially when there are young children in your home ;) Teaching is so emotionally exhausting - I work to meet the needs of 29 children in one day as well as the 3 children that I am the mother of. I need to be very intentional when carving out time for my own wellness.  - Jasmine, Milton, WI

Being kind to ourselves. As educators we feel like we have to be ‘on’ all the time, and we don’t show our students that we are human. It’s been a process of building that trust with my students. I was always focused on making sure they trust me, but I never really focused on trusting them back. It was huge for my mental health when I became real and authentic with them. Without giving them all the details, I simply tell them that I am feeling (blank) and that I am working on it. They respond with compassion and empathy because they’ve been there too. - Abbie, Janesville, WI

Do you have any advice for educators who may be struggling to balance their mental health with work in schools and personal lives? 

I always try to remember that if I’m not well, my classroom can’t be well. When I first started teaching, I gave everything I had to my job. 13 years later I’ve learned that the only way to stay in the job and make the impact I want to make is to set boundaries and maintain them. It’s not always easy but it’s always worth it. - Monica, New York, NY

Take more time for you. Taking a mental health day is essential at some point in the year. Try not to work at home during all hours - unplug at some point. R-E-L-A-X during the summer and be sure to move at a very slow pace. Practice self-compassion all year long! - Jasmine, Milton, WI

Teachers need to recognize that our kids know us as well as we know them, they learn us just like we learn them. We need to be more gentle and kind with ourselves and give ourselves the same benefits we would give our students.It’s ok to stop in the middle of a lesson and reset yourself and your class. Respect yourself enough to slow down, respect yourself enough to ask for help. - Abbie, Janesville, WI

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Ready to start building a mindful classroom?

Head to www.yogafoster.org to learn more about our program and how to sign up!