As a teacher, I don't find it surprising to read that according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, the highest rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety in Britain are experienced by those in the education profession. However, I remember having this conversation with a non-teaching friend early on in my career and, well... we haven't spoken since! We get all those holidays and there are people working in hospitals and fighting in wars... is teaching really that tough and demanding a job? In many ways, I suppose not. Most teachers know that they will work Monday to Friday, with holidays that work relatively well with those of their own children. We work in a safe environment and more often than not, with people that we respect and consider friends. We know that in most circumstances our jobs are secure and that there are opportunities if we want them to progress and seek development.
'teachers’ satisfaction with life is lower than that of the general public' - Ofsted 2019
So why all of the reports of stress, depression and anxiety? Why does Twitter flood with memes from teachers suffering from the Sunday-night blues? The UK Health and Safety Executive recently published some research into this question. Interestingly, it states that 'Respondents’ and especially teachers’ satisfaction with life is lower than that of the general public'. I think this is where we start to get towards the main problem, and certainly where I struggle. I imagine, like me, most teachers struggle with work-life balance. Add to that, the fact that I currently find myself living on my own, and you have a perfect recipe for someone who falls into the trap of focusing on work, forgetting to spend time on anything else. In 2020, I find myself 35 and living on my own. Very satisfied in my job and career, but the last 12 years (the time I have been teaching) has flown past and in many ways, I find myself right back where I started... so it is time for a change!
My 3-step plan for 2020
1. Enjoy the weekend
Too often, I spend my weekend recovering from the school week or thinking ahead to the next. I often spend much of my Saturday afternoon at a football match (which in itself is often depressing). So I need to start planning more for my weekends. Catching up with people more regularly and just doing more.
2, Do something else during the week
Monday to Friday is very much work, eat, sleep: repeat. I try to squeeze a gym session or two in, but these often have to be before school as realistically they wouldn't happen otherwise. Thursday night is going to become cinema night; I've bought my unlimited membership and I am going to use it... after all, it's almost Friday!
3. The BIG ONE...
It is time to get out of Edinburgh. I have lived here for my entire 35 years and work five minutes from my front door. The flat is going on the market on Tuesday and 2020 is the year I move out of town. I am not moving school and I have no intention of doing that for a long time yet - in fact, I could see me celebrating my retirement there, but I am really excited about having a commute for the first time! It will mean an early start and probably five gym sessions a week before school to beat the traffic, but half an hour in the car after work is exactly what I have been needing. Time to switch off and separate school from home a bit more... even if I do use it to catch up on my podcasts!
The research article mentioned in this blog post can be read here: