The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Kelly Hannaghan

The new wellbeing: coping with the phases of lockdown through Covid-19

Kelly Hannaghan highlights the importance of managing the anxieties and monotony of the coronavirus lockdown, with simple strategies to support this new way of wellbeing.

Thousands of school children across the world are being taught at home as the Covid-19 pandemic brings life as we knew it to a temporary halt – bringing with it a whole other way of being for educators.

It’s the relationship factors that are most missed... the sense of belonging and togetherness that comes from being part of a school family

You’re likely to be spending more time at home, whether that’s through self-isolation, being ill, working from home or just as a result of the social restrictions and distancing measures. Whether you’re living on your own, with a partner, flatmates or with your family, this brings challenges (and positives too).

As human beings we are designed to have human connections; this is something I miss the most in lockdown. I draw my energies through interactions with others and the simple to-ing and fro-ing of emotional gestures and language.

What about the teachers that are still going into school?

Research by education insight company EdComs found that 69% of primary teachers and 62% of secondary teachers are still dividing their time in the lockdown between home and school (as reported in a teacher’s life in lockdown).

Most schools are running a rota system where a limited number of staff are in school to support the keyworkers children and the most vulnerable. In my school we have had around 10 pupils per day.

This is a strange situation for both the pupils and the staff whom are both missing the hustle and bustle of regular school life. It’s the relationship factors that are most missed: those water cooler moments when teachers catch up on everyday chat, the pupil gatherings in the playground – the sense of belonging and togetherness that comes from being part of a school family.

Getting the best out of your days

Some of us have that natural ability to adjust accordingly to our changing environments.

Sadly for me, I’m not one of those people. I have found it incredibly hard to find purpose and to motivate myself. However, I have created a great strategy to help me find my momentum; it simply sets a structure and routine for each day and is helpful for family life.

My day is split into six chunks, allowing me to step away from writing endless to do lists and feeling terrible at the end of the day when I evaluate how little I have achieved. (Maybe you’re also finding that tasks are taking so much longer to do at this time.)

Try breaking your day up into manageable chunks

This is a great tool to use with children if you are home schooling. It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day, ensure you have a suitable working and learning space and to find ways creative ways connect with others.

For parents juggling both working from home and educating your children, check out my weekly wellbeing newsletter which includes tips and ideas on coping and enhancing wellbeing through lockdown.

You will also find my staff weekly newsletters on my Twitter feed.

Creative ways to connect remotely

If you’re not used to working remotely, it can be incredibly hard to adjust. (For more on working from home, see our tips for teachers and leaders.)

Team meetings are valuable in staying connected with work colleagues; the following are examples of some of the online meeting tools currently available.

  • GoToMeeting: a robust and reliable online meetings program that boasts screen sharing and great call quality.
  • Google Hangouts: often the most convenient options, thanks to the ubiquity of Google – especially if you're using Google Calendar to manage your schedule.
  • great for fast and easy screenshare meetings.
  • Uber Conference: no meeting PIN numbers, among other features, means a much less painful conference call experience. It also allows screen sharing and has a mobile app.
  • Skype: a good option for chatting with people all over the world

You could also send a letter or postcard, take regular walk and waves (regular timed walks when you wave or make door stop checkins with vulnerable neighbours) – these can make a huge difference to someone’s day.

Pupil wellbeing for home school living

Pupils may be experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing due to being isolated at home; it may be that families are living in confined spaces with little financial support. For some children school is the only place where they get a positive secure relationship and regular meals.

How about asking teachers to:

  • send regular video messages home
  • write to a few pupils from their class each week?

Both Place2Be and the Anna Freud Centre have helpful resources to support children, families and educators through the coronavirus crisis.

But most importantly, keep communicating with families by using a variety of methods.

Your mental wellness matters

You may be someone who is coping well within these times and this is great. There may also be people who are struggling with symptoms of poor mental health due to rising anxiety and the monotony of current life. All feelings are ok; these are times that we have never experienced before and we are doing our best to adjust to the current situation.

If you’re struggling to cope, please know you are not alone and that there is always someone to talk to. Education Support offers a 24/7 confidential helpline and is open to anyone working within education.

For the latest information and guidance from the DfE, see Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and other educational settings.

A final note from me to you

Know you are amazing and contributing invaluably as keyworkers in supporting our nation through this global epidemic. Please remember to take care of yourself and ensure you do all you can to keep both your mind and body healthy throughout this crisis.

Thank you for being you.

On Wednesday 22 April I'll be leading a webinar on wellbeing when working from home. Do join me if you can!

Resources to support your school community

Optimus Education has made a number of resources freely available to schools, including primary curriculum homework projects, in-house CPD training courses, career workbooks, and parental engagement frameworks. Let us know what else you would find helpful and we'll see if we can help.

Access the free resources



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