Remote teaching can be life changing. Remote teaching can be challenging.
New culture, new language, new ways of being. Different expectations or settings at the school. Little handover or planning provided. Lack of resources. New colleagues- different opinions. Students with diverse needs.
Teaching in an outback community school can be stressful. And while teaching in mainstream schools can also be stressful- you are usually surrounded by your support networks, your health professionals, your usual unwind activities (the beach you love, your yoga class, your favourite pub). When you are remote you can feel isolated, alone and without supports. You might feel like you can’t take time off for your mental health because your relief falls on your hardworking colleagues who are as overwhelmed as you. You might need retail therapy, a massage, your hair done to feel ‘you’ again- and it is hours away.
So it is important to understand your stress signs so you can proactively manage your mental health.
- Where does stress usually show in your body? Is it a bloated belly? Or are you someone who holds all your worries as migraines? Do you feel the tightness in your lower back? Or are you a person who gets break outs when things become too stressful? Do you find yourself biting your nails, picking the cuticles or chewing the inside of your cheeks? Maybe stress shows itself as trouble in the toilet? Or stress might manifest as sleepless nights. It might be one, some or all- or something completely different for you.
- Are there other signs that you might becoming stressed? Do you become excessively tired? Maybe you feel a little scattered and unorganised? Maybe you miss things that you would usually notice- like forgetting to bring your lunch to school? Maybe you snap at a student who you might usually address with compassion? Maybe you find yourself engaging in negative school chats when usually you would avoid them?
Reflect on how you would usually manage your stress
Once you know what to be aware of in your body and mind the next step is to reflect on the strategies and techniques that you have previously used with success to manage your stress levels.
- Visited a friend or family member
- Go walking on the beach, surfing, bike ride, bush walk, gym
- A trip to your local shopping mall
- A visit to your psychologist and counsellor
- List and prioritise tasks so that you don’t become overwhelmed
- Light a candle, choose a good book and have a bath
- Visit your favourite hairdresser, beauty therapist, massage palor
- Journal about your feelings
- Learn to mediate
- Be in nature
- Hug someone- your mum, your kids, your pets, your best friend
- Cry if you have to- let out your built up emotions and release some endorphins
- Read a good book, watch your favourite movie, listen to music
- Create something- just for fun
How can you manage stress in your remote community setting?
- Are there some things from the above list that you can still do, or do a different way?
- Invite a colleague or local friend for a walk around community or out of town
- Take a weekend off planning/work and explore
- Do some online shopping for your favourite comfort foods and items
- Schedule some video calls with friends and family back home
- Book a health retreat, massage, yoga retreat, day spa, beauty day for a weekend in a main center or your next holiday. Smile Teachers retreats look amazing.
- Check if you have any visiting beauty therapists, hairdressers, counsellors, psychologists that visit your community, a larger community nearby or are travelling through
- Share the load- see if you can do some collaborative planning or teaching with a colleague… or even with someone in a similar context remote school (our group Teachers in Remote Communities (Past, Present, Future) AND The Remote Teacher Members Mastermind are great places to find other professionals to connect and collaborate with).
- Speak to your Administration/Leadership team about some of your big stressors- is it a student that you are struggling to manage, a family, a subject that you aren’t very familiar with and need extra PD.
- Consider booking with your employer counselling service (usually you have a few free sessions). We also recommend video sessions or ‘walk and talk’ video sessions with A Counselled Life who has worked with remote teachers before- even scheduling a monthly ‘check-in’ is well worth the investment.
- Go out on Country with your local First Nations friends- eat bush food, swim in fresh creeks, laugh until your belly hurts
- Create routines that take the stress of ‘thinking’ out of your day in your personal life and in your school role.
These are just a few ideas. You might choose two to try this week and reflect on the impact that they had- and then try some more next week. You might write them as personal goals at the top of your diary so you are reminded every day.
Mental health is covered in some of our courses and the Thrive Membership- more information here. We don’t just discuss more ‘whats’ but also the ‘hows’ and give you tangible action steps to make your time remote more enjoyable and stress free.