How Teachers Can Manage Burnout During the Pandemic

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 28, 2020 — Many teachers are suffering from burnout as they try to cope with teaching during a pandemic, worrying about managing students and dealing with anxiety about their own health.

But Ann Murphy, director of the Northeast and Caribbean Mental Health Technology Transfer Center at Rutgers School of Health Professions in New Jersey, says teachers can manage stress and anxiety during this challenging time with the help of administrators.

The symptoms of burnout include feeling unfulfilled, overwhelmed, easily frustrated, exhausted, forgetful, easily distracted, fatigued, having difficulty sleeping and having changes in appetite with weight loss or gain. Over time, burnout can lead to anxiety, depression and physical problems.

The best way to avoid burnout is to have a self-care routine, filled with activities that you enjoy and look forward to like walking, yoga or napping, Murphy said in a Rutgers news release.

Create a balance between work and home life, like scheduling related activities in a certain time frame. Instead of immediately replying to emails, set aside blocks of time and return emails then, she explained. You can have an automatic email reply that lets people know you’ll return emails during set hours so they won’t expect an immediate response. Also, set a time later in the afternoon or evening after which you won’t reply to emails so you can create a space between work and non-work time.

Also consider professional help from a mental health professional, Murphy suggested.

School administrators can hold regular open forums to discuss teachers’ and staff members’ concerns, maintain regular communication so that everyone feels they are informed, be transparent about how and why decisions are made, and include all stakeholders, she advised.

Administrators can create nurturing environments that recognize the good work being done, promote team building and inform teachers and staff about physical and mental health support, Murphy noted.

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