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Looking After Your Mental Health When Working in the Early Years

Rageena, Director of Early Years, writes about managing mental health when working in the sector.

A joyful woman surrounded by children on a playground, sharing a moment of laughter and hugs. the setting features a stair railing and greenery in the background.

Mental health issues have a profound impact on individuals from all walks of life and can be influenced by various factors. Lately, social media platforms have been filled with posts showcasing employee appreciation, highlighting the significant role workplace cultures play in our overall well-being.

Working in Early Years & Mental Health

Considering the amount of time we spend at work, it’s important to acknowledge that working with children, while rewarding, can also be quite demanding. Removing children from the equation, and collaborating with 20+ adults—our colleagues—can sometimes prove challenging. We are all aware that the environments we spend time in can significantly affect our mood and have long-term implications for our mental health and well-being. 

However, it is crucial to remember that each of us has a responsibility to cultivate the culture within our workplace. Through every interaction, our responses to situations, and the actions we take—whether consciously or unconsciously—we directly shape the atmosphere in which we operate. 

Do As We Teach

Children’s well-being has long been a focus of what we do, as we work continuously to maintain secure and nurturing environments for them. Through various situations, we help children understand their emotions, develop effective coping strategies, and comprehend the consequences of their actions, especially their impact on others. Naturally, through our daily interactions, we are teaching them emotional awareness and guiding them in responding constructively to setbacks. 

Why is it that as we grow older, we sometimes struggle to rationalise and manage our own emotions? Why is it that when faced with a challenge or a difficult day, we find ourselves immediately in a negative mood, or giving up at the first hurdle? 

Four colleagues in a casual meeting room with laptops, discussing work. one man is using a laptop showing a webpage, while three women are engaging in conversation.

Our Own Emotional Literacy 

Emotional literacy seems like a relatively new concept, most of us did not have the privilege of growing up with it as a fundamental part of our education. We may not have had the benefit of being taught strategies for emotional regulation and fostering a positive mindset as we do with children today. However, we now have an awareness of these strategies. So how can we apply these same techniques to help ourselves when needed? 

Empathy & Support Towards Others

We provide numerous opportunities to encourage children to think critically, solve problems, persevere in the face of challenges, and take pride in who they are. Through our interactions, we constantly motivate and inspire them, building their confidence and self-esteem. Yet, how often do we extend this support to our colleagues when they encounter difficulties? How often do we offer the same encouragement to ourselves? 

  We are imparting emotional security and resilience to children, providing them with a foundation of skills that will ideally continue to develop throughout their lives. We must also value ourselves enough to use these strategies when needed. It is vital that we acknowledge how our thoughts and actions impact our own well-being and that of those around us. 

Two women smiling at a table displaying beauty products, snacks, and a sign reading "treat yourself." the setting has a bright, casual office ambiance.

Recognise Your Feelings

Life throws challenges at everyone, not just in the workplace. It is essential, in those moments of challenge, to take a moment to recognise our feelings and consciously make an effort to respond to them in a positive manner. And repeat this process until positivity becomes our natural, unconscious reaction to problems. 

I want to emphasise that the above suggestions may not solve mental health issues entirely. However, being emotionally aware and mindful can undoubtedly have a long-term effect on our mood and the well-being of ourselves and others. 

Take Ownership of Your Wellbeing

It is important to remember that while we cannot control others, we can control our own actions and reactions. We must take ownership of our own well-being and understand the impact we have on the well-being of those around us. 

As a workplace, it is crucial that we collaborate continuously, fostering a culture of appreciation, support, and positivity beyond Mental Health Awareness weeks or designated wellbeing-themed days. 



Director of Early Years

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