You wake up in the morning and realize that the alarm did not go off and now you have less time to get ready for work. This limited time leaves you no time to eat breakfast or even make a lunch for yourself. You then get into your car to drive to the early childhood program where you work and find yourself stuck in traffic. At this time, you are ready to yell at the people holding up traffic because you need to get to work. Once you get to the program, you have a parent who is upset because his child was sent home the day before with paint on her shirt although the child wore a smock. Your co-teacher called out and she was supposed to bring the cooking material that was planned for today. Then you find out at the last minute that you will have an Early Intervention worker observing a child in your classroom this morning… Guess what? Your work day hasn’t even begun, and you are mentally drained and STRESSED… What do you do???
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is real and as educators working with young children you must take care of yourself in order to take care of those who need you. According to www.mentalhealth.gov: “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
We all have bad days that don’t go well; however, if we have more days like the one described above in this article about being stressed, it is time to really look at what is going on with ourselves. Stress is a big contributor to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
It is very important to manage your mental well–being whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not. When you have more on your plate than you can handle and feel overwhelmed, it is time to STOP and check your emotions.
The following are some things you can do to help you through (NOTE: These are suggestions and not prescribed solutions that will cure issues with mental health):
- Breathe… And count to 10 to help slow your breathing
- Meditate (think of a mantra, a favorite saying or picture, or a happy place you would like to be)
- Talk to someone you trust
- Excuse yourself from a situation that is making your anxious (get coverage first if you are with the children)
- Journal your thoughts
Take care of yourself daily and talk to a trusted resource. Most employer agencies and medical insurances have resources for you to get into contact with professional counselors/therapists to help you through the stressors in your life. Take advantage of the resources.
The following are other resources in Pennsylvania that will provide more information on mental health: