I’ve never really come face to face with full-on, exhausting, completely debilitating stress before. Over the last six weeks, trying to deal with a long build up of anxiety, panic attacks and deep sadness brought on by post-Ofsted helplessness and frustration, I’ve learned what it means to want to give up.
But a combination of a sensible doctor (‘take time out, get some fresh air and exercise and step back from work – you’re not letting them down; you’re making yourself strong again’), a very understanding boss, brilliant family and hugely supportive workmates have worked their magic. This week I went back to school, feeling absolutely terrified but much better. The welcoming hugs made it all worthwhile.
So here’s my plan for overcoming the effects of a system that’s kicking teachers in the teeth and then giving them a few more kicks when they’re down:
- If you possibly can, give yourself some space from work – a good doctor will understand. Crying at the surgery seems to work well…
- Get your boots on, get out into the fresh air and walk and walk and walk.
- Read feel-good books.
- Do some writing if you can. If you can’t, don’t worry. You will one day soon.
- Eat well (forget weight loss, indulge yourself with wine/gin/Baileys, but mostly go for the healthy stuff.)
- See family and friends as much as possible and if they want you to talk about your worries, do! They won’t mind if you blub. So long as you stop eventually and give them some cake.
- Don’t let yourself think this bad patch will never end. It will.
- If all else fails sit down with a cat on your knee and watch The Sound of Music*. (*Substitute film of choice. I know this one could actually bring on stress in some people.)
So, lovely people, if you’re in a bad place, where everything seems black and the world clearly hates you, I wish you the very best of luck. All will be well. Trust me. You can borrow my cat if you like.