Balancing professional and personal life is a recurring topic in education and proves challenging for many early career teachers.


According to the Teacher Wellbeing Index, 70% of school staff considered workload as the main reason for leaving their jobs. Additionally, 66% of individuals facing behavioural, psychological, or physical symptoms identified poor work-life balance as a significant concern.


High workloads and an unhealthy work-life balance contributes to poor mental health faced by new teachers so it’s important to find strategies to deal with everyday stressors.

Symptoms of a poor work-life balance


A poor work-life balance can have many negative impacts on a teacher’s life, including:


  • Fatigue, vocal strain, and sleep deprivation
  • Anxiety or panic attacks, accompanied by a loss of confidence
  • Increased sick leave or absence from work
  • A short-tempered demeanour
  • Strained relationships and limited social life
  • Emotional detachment from others
  • Limited quality time with children, family, and friends
  • Difficulty empathising with others


If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms over an extended period, it is advisable to seek guidance from your GP or a healthcare professional.


Here are some tips on how you can improve your well-being and work-life balance as a teacher…

Plan ahead


Rather than planning every lesson from scratch, build up teaching resources as you go. Planning out weeks or months ahead can help you feel in control of your time, making it easier to achieve a balance between work and your personal life. Create a schedule that accounts for both teaching and personal time. It can be a good idea to prioritise tasks based on deadlines and importance. This will allow you to stay in control over your workload.


Teaching involves being organised. As a new teacher, you will have several tasks to think about at the same time – from lesson planning to marking work. However, there are several resources you can take advantage of. There are online to-do lists and monthly calendars that you can use to organise your days. You can also use Twinkl’s marking timetable. It can be an easy way to keep in control of your tasks for the coming days.


Getting efficient at lesson planning can also help you achieve a better work-life balance. Click here to read our guide on lesson planning for new teachers.

Set boundaries


Practice setting boundaries for yourself and take time to rest. Keep your professional and personal space separate and don’t stay up late marking work or planning lessons. It can help to create a designated workspace for grading and planning. Tell yourself to leave work behind when you leave school for the day.


Don’t be afraid to set boundaries in line with your own personal and professional priorities. For example, set a time where you will no longer check your emails and try to minimise unnecessary meetings. Keep meetings focused with an agenda, and be mindful not to overcommit.


Rather than focusing on attending every school event or planning countless school trips, focus on what will have the most impact on your students. As a new teacher, it is important to recognise that it’s okay to ask for hep if you are overloaded with work.

Set time aside for socialising


Teachers often feel guilty for taking time off, but rest is essential. It allows you to work to the best of your abilities. Taking some time away from work and spending time with friends prevents burnout and can promote your well-being.


Teachers spend a lot of time with each other at work, which can be an important stress reliever. However, don’t forget to meet up with your non-teacher friends. Schedule outings and have dinner with friends outside the education field. This is essential for shutting off and creating a distinction between personal life and work.

Engage in self-care


Teaching is a demanding career so it’s important to prioritise caring for yourself. Self-care can enhance your well-being and can have a ripple effect, positively impacting the overall teaching experience for you and your students.


Here are a few self-care tips for teachers:


  • Mindfulness practices: take part in activities like meditation or deep breathing exercises into your daily routine.
  • Physical exercise: regular physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a workout session, or yoga, find an exercise routine that suits your preferences and schedule.
  • Creative outlets: engage in activities like painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument.
  • Hobbies and interests: dedicate time to activities you enjoy outside of teaching. Read a book, do some gardening, or take part in a pottery class!

Let it go


Teachers can sometimes fixate on small things – the lesson plan that didn’t unfold as expected, the assessments waiting to get marked, pending emails. Sometimes you just need to let it go.


Perfection is unattainable and it’s okay if every lesson doesn’t go according to plan. Mistakes can be an important part of learning. Embrace your mistakes and move forward from them.


Check out these resources by Twinkle on how to navigate the expectations placed on teachers.

Prioritise quality sleep


Teaching is a demanding profession that requires boundless energy. Amidst the hustle and bustle of lesson planning, grading, and classroom management, one fundamental aspect often overlooked is the importance of getting enough sleep. Adequate sleep is linked to improved attention, memory and problem-solving. Teachers who prioritise sleep will have sharper minds in and out of the classroom.


By getting 8 hours of sleep, teachers will have…

  • More patience and tolerance while teaching
  • Higher energy levels in the classroom
  • Better mental well-being
  • Lower levels of stress and burnout


To get better sleep, it is important to establish a consistent routine. Minimise noise, caffeine, harsh light sources and the use of electronics before bed. Listen to your body – if you’re constantly tired during the day, it might be an indicator that you need more sleep.

Accept that teaching can be tough


Teaching can be a tough job – you need to bring your a-game every day and manage expectations from your students and their parents. There will be times where work can feel though – from exam periods to challenging behaviours in the classroom.


While the rewards of shaping young minds are immeasurable, it’s equally crucial for educators to acknowledge that teaching can be tough. Accepting the challenges that teaching brings can help alleviate the stress associated with unmet expectations. Accepting tough moments can also prevent burnout as you are more likely to allocate time for self-care. If you’re struggling, it’s okay to reach out for help.

Learning to achieve a healthy work-life balance as an early career teacher can be tough sometimes.


There are many benefits to achieving a sense of well-being as a teacher like reduced burnout and improved job satisfaction.


By incorporating these steps into your routine, you’ll be able to thrive in your career and relish the fulfilment and joy that teaching brings.


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