Being an early childhood educator can be both rewarding and challenging. Here are just a few of the responsibilities early childhood educators have.
Sometimes these demands can take their toll and lead to stress and burnout. Together, with our colleagues, workplaces and broader networks, we can prevent or minimise the effects of demanding and challenging environments on mental health and wellbeing.
What is professional resilience?
Professional resilience is about our individual capacity to thrive in situations of high demand and ongoing pressure. It involves how we recover from significant challenges, difficulties and setbacks and then use these for learning and personal growth in the workplace.
Often the choices we make in responding to difficult situations, such as our attitude and our willingness to take action, demonstrate resilience.
With the assistance of our workplaces, we can all play a role in supporting the professional resilience of our colleagues and ourselves.
Can you think of a few things that you, a colleague or the workplace do could to enhance staff wellbeing?
- Build supportive relationships
- Strong relationships in the workplace are powerful contributors to professional resilience. We have the capacity to tolerate a lot more stress when we have supportive relationships with managers and colleagues. This is because relationships help us share ideas, vent frustrations, obtain support and generate plans for tackling workplace challenges.
- Think positively
- How we feel is often a consequence of how we think and behave. Looking for the positive in situations can lessen stress and allow us to act in constructive ways. Support positiveness by:
- displaying or thinking attitudes like ‘I know I can get through this.'
- having a focus on finding solutions
- understanding what can and can’t be controlled
- expecting the best out of every situation
Use your strengths
- Becoming aware of your strengths can help you draw on them during challenging and demanding situations. Having the opportunity to utilise your strengths can change your feeling of satisfaction about your role too.
In what ways are you using your personal strengths within your role, or are there strengths you are not utilising?
- Sometimes we are more easily able to see the strengths of others. If pinpointing your own strengths is tricky, try a positive psychology questionnaire or ask a trusted colleague or friend … they might identify something you haven’t.
Do the type of work that you enjoy doing
- Discussing with your manager which parts of your role are most satisfying may open up opportunities to engage in this type of work more often.
- When you enjoy the work you do and feel satisfied, you are less likely to be affected by the parts of your work that you don’t particularly like.
- Professionally resilient people are prepared to act. They keep the focus on what they can do to overcome challenges, reduce stress or manage a difficult situation.
- You don't need to go it alone though ... reach out to trusted networks for support.
Noticing and remembering what internal strengths and external supports or processes assisted you to ‘bounce back’ can provide solutions and plans for future situations too.
Look after your health and wellbeing
- Doing things that you enjoy outside of work, socialising, leaving enough time for rest and relaxation, eating well, getting enough sleep and doing exercise all support a balanced lifestyle and help to buffer some of the negative experiences that may come your way.
- Sometimes when you’re finding it difficult to cope it may be helpful to speak to a GP or mental health professional. Taking care of yourself is important.
- Bringing in an element of fun at your workplace can help ease stress and make some of the demands of work easier to overcome. It also supports the development of those positive relationships that are great for reducing stress.
Workplaces can promote professional resilience too
- Acknowledge the reality and demands of the workplace
- Support self-care behaviours in staff
- Provide forums for discussion and strategy-sharing
- Provide opportunities for staff to express strong feelings
- Introduce a mentoring system where educators are given opportunities to share and reflect on experiences with their colleagues
- Encourage opportunities for further education and professional development
- Have realistic expectations of educators
- Enable educators to use their strengths in their day-to-day work
- Communicate relevant information that has an impact on the work educators do in an effective and timely manner
How does your workplace support and encourage the professional resilience of educators?
- A message about taking care of yourself (This includes a Yarning Up podcast spoken by KidsMatter participants and transcript).
- There is no shame in seeking help [KidsMatter Ways Action Chart](make your own action chart)
- Be safe, keep safe – online
- After the Webinar: Mental health matters for adults too… Let’s take some time to think about ourselves This includes a recording of the webinar (downloadable), slides and resources list)
- Mental health everywhere: even at work A Shared Thinking blog giving a snapshot of the importance of considering mental health in a work environment.
- Take care of yourself ... your mental health matters [poster] This is the link to download the poster and a companion blog to support conversations about the poster in the community.
- Taking care of yourself: Managing stress in child care services
- Stress management for carers of young children
- You can also call or email your consultant, or get in touch on our Facebook page.