Teacher burnout: What can we do about it?

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In the past five years, over 7 million teacher days have been lost due to mental health issues, particularly heightened during the pandemic. Unsuitable workloads, pressure, increased class sizes, and low pay could all be to blame

Teacher burnout: What can we do about it?

In the last year, studies by the Observer have revealed that teacher sick days are up by 7% across council-controlled schools in England and Wales, with this number up nearly a fifth compared to the same period three years ago. Areas particularly affected include Kent and Hampshire, with Kent seeing 91,679 teaching days lost in the 21-22 school year.

Existing pressures, such as increased class sizes, coupled with a below-inflation pay rise proposal, have taken a toll on teachers’ mental health and wellbeing. The impact of the Covid pandemic has also heightened the issue, with Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Munira Wilson commenting: “The Covid inquiry must also look into the impact the government’s mishandling of the pandemic had on the mental health of teachers and other frontline workers.”

During the pandemic, many teachers have had to take on extra work, leading to burnout. If this pressure continues, the existing teacher shortage could be set to worsen. As it is, 40% of teachers leave their jobs within the first 10 years of qualifying, according to Julie McCulloch, Policy Director at the Association of School and College Leaders.

Despite the upcoming Covid inquiry, which is set to launch an ‘Education Staff Wellbeing Charter’ off the back of it, there is a risk that the crisis could get worse before it gets better.

So, what can we do about it? Here, Dr Julie Smith discusses how to manage burnout.

How to deal with burnout

We can all experience burnout if we overdo it, whether in our personal lives or at work.

Before practising techniques to combat burnout, it’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms in the first place:

  • exhaustion
  • distancing yourself from others
  • negative attitude toward work
  • lack of motivation
  • physical symptoms, such as aches and pains

Stress and burnout are related, though not the same. Burnout is chronic stress. If you’re stressed at work, you might feel like your workload is too demanding and you have a lot of pressure, but this feeling typically stops once the workload calms down. Being burnt out often means you feel as if you are completely drained of your energy and have nothing more to give. The goal is to recognise your stress before it escalates into burnout.

Once you’ve identified you’re stressed or burnt out, try to understand the root cause of it and discuss how you’re feeling with your manager, HR, or your colleagues. If it becomes too much, you may consider finding a different job.

It’s also a good idea to set boundaries at work, and stick to them. For example, ensure you log off at a certain time and try to avoid doing work tasks at home. It can be easy to quickly start

Unforgettable Chocolate Quinoa Cake

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The Chocolate Quinoa Cake has the texture of a traditional cake, yet no special flours are required. This is pure, sweet Chocolate Cake.

This cake has blown my mind. Just writing about it here makes me grin as I think about how perfectly moist, rich, and chocolatey it is.

Quinoa Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Whipped Chocolate Frosting

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

When I first saw this recipe, I did a double-take because I had never before run across anything quite like it. A flourless chocolate cake made with quinoa?

I first heard about a Quinoa Chocolate Cake over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe almost 10 years ago. The recipe is originally from Quinoa 365 and even if you think you hate quinoa, my friends, this cake is going to change your mind. I say that without any doubt at all.

I make a Flourless Chocolate Cake at least a couple of times a year and it is one of my favorite recipes. The Chocolate Quinoa Cake, on the other hand, has the texture of a traditional cake, yet with no special flours required.

All you need is a couple of scoops of cooked quinoa. While I was initially very skeptical, I assure you that you absolutely positively can NOT taste the quinoa in this recipe.

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

This cake wowed both my family and our dinner guests who are accustomed to eating traditional sweets. Even knowing that the cake was made from quinoa, I couldn’t detect an odd taste or texture.

(And you know just how fussy I am about GF desserts and any odds textures or smells – some of those gluten-free flours are pretty bad!)

You don’t have to take my word for it either. There are dozens of 5 star reviews of this recipe at the bottom of this post.

This Quinoa Chocolate Cake has become a go-to dessert for many people who don’t normally cook or bake gluten-free, but enjoy being able to surprise friends with a gluten-free option without having to keep specialty flours and starches on hand.

This, my friends, is pure, sweet, and tender chocolate cake. After eating a slice the next day for breakfast, I sent the rest of it to the office with my husband. This is a very dangerous cake.

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Allotments: the ultimate guide to growing your own food for beginners

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Allotments exist to offer everyone the opportunity to grow their own food, so, what do you need to know?

Allotments: the ultimate guide to growing your own food for beginners

If you’ve never stepped foot on an allotment before, at the very least you’ve probably passed one by. Squeezed in between housing estates in the centre of cities, on the outskirts of towns, and down spiralling pathways in villages, an estimated 330,000 allotments across the UK offer local residents their own plot of land where they can grow their own food, cultivating a ‘good life’ while they’re at it.

And, post-lockdown, interest in allotments is higher than ever, with the National Allotment Society revealing that 40% of English councils responding to a survey reported a ‘significant uplift’ in applications to join waiting lists, with one council – Hyndburn, in Lancashire – seeing an astounding 300% increase.

It’s easy to understand why this trend is happening. In lockdown, many of us slowed our pace of life right down and were forced to reconnect with the simple things in life. Add to that a desire to ‘eat local’, to understand more about where our food comes from and, importantly, the incredible wellbeing benefit of being out in nature that many of us have experienced first-hand, and you have the perfect conditions for the self-sufficient dream to blossom.

The good news is that, in theory, there’s enough to go around. While many may choose to grow food in their gardens – in 1908, the Small Holdings and Allotments Act came into force, meaning that local authorities must provide sufficient allotment space for the public to grow food where there is a demand for it. Updated in 1925 to protect these spaces further, this legislation is still very much active today, and preserves citizens’ rights to grow their own food, holding the door open to anyone who wants to have a go.

While waiting lists can be rather lengthy, sometimes stretching up to 18 months, costs can be relatively low, ranging between £25–£125 per year depending on the location and facilities on site. Total newbies work side-by-side with expert old-timers, and the community spirit that flourishes on allotments is second to none, as knowledge is passed around without hesitation, plant swaps will have you tucking into new experiences, and annual shows will bring out a healthy dose of competition.

Allotments: the ultimate guide to growing your own food for beginners

Sounds appealing? Here’s a quick run-down of three key things to consider:

1. How much land are we talkin’?

Allotments are traditionally measured in ‘poles’ – also referred to as ‘perches’ or ‘rods’ – which is an ancient measurement that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. Generally speaking, the standard allotment size is 10 poles, which is the equivalent of 250 square metres – about the size of a doubles tennis court. It’s a fair bit of land, but if you feel intimidated by that, there are a number of options available. You could share the plot with someone you know, or you could reach out to others who are on the waiting list. Or, you can cover up some of your plot with weed-suppressant material, and work on it bit by bit until you get the hang of things. Be warn

5 ways building self-esteem paves the way to success

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Whatever your version of success is, chances are self-esteem can help you get there

5 ways building self-esteem paves the way to success

A lot of us have been inspired by the Lionesses recent brilliant victory, perhaps because it reminds us just how truly capable we are, even when faced with assumptions and obstacles. It’s also encouraged a lot of us to think about success - what does it mean to us, and how can we get there?

Defining your own version of success is an important first step. Society likes to bombard us with messages on what success looks like, but following your own dreams will help you not only find success but fulfilment, too.

And when it comes to getting there, I believe self-esteem plays a pivotal role. That and perhaps a helping of determination. Success for me has always been centred around doing what I love – writing. After studying writing at university, I fell into the world of retail and it took me many years to finally find the job I’m in today, where I get to write every day.

It wasn’t an easy journey, but building my self-esteem (and resilience) along the way opened a lot of doors. Here’s what self-esteem can do for you as you seek your success.

1. It reminds you of your value

You may well get knocked back a few times as you strive for what you want in life. When we have a healthy sense of self-esteem, we know our inherent value and worth. This means, that no matter how many times people knock us down, we know we have something of value to offer and we keep going.

This value we hold is like a rock within us. It’s always there but sometimes dirt can pile up around it, hiding it from view. Working on your self-esteem and self-worth can help you clear the dirt and find a sense of steadiness. Whether you find success in the way you thought you would, or you find something completely different, knowing your value means fulfilling your potential.

2. It opens you up to more opportunities

Self-esteem is the foundation of confidence. When we value ourselves and what we have to bring to the world, we feel more confident about going after it. This may mean we’re more likely to take risks, explore opportunities presented to us and say ‘yes’ out of excitement instead of saying ‘no’ out of fear.

Here’s a quick mindset shift to try:

When an opportunity is presented to you that you feel nervous about (perhaps a public speaking gig, for example), ask yourself ‘what can I gain from this?’. This can take our minds out of risk-seeking and shift it into opportunity-seeking, helping us make a more informed decision.

3. It helps you to reveal your strengths

Hands up who was told off for ‘showing off’ as a child? Being boastful has long had negative connotations for many of us, but sometimes seeing it as a bad thing stops us from progressing. Perhaps at work, you tend to let others have the spotlight to be seen as ‘nice’ or ‘humble’, or avoid highlighting your skills to avoid being seen as a ‘show-off’.

The truth is, by hiding your strengths, you’re also hiding yourself from potential success. Building your self-esteem can help you identify and lean into your strengths, revealing them and exploring what unfolds. Not sure what your strengths are? Take a look at this free Read more

Cheesy Chicken and Refried Bean Enchiladas

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Cheese and refried beans meld together to create a flavorful layer in these Cheesy Chicken and Refried Bean Enchiladas.

Cheesy Chicken and Refried Bean Enchiladas

Chicken and Bean Enchiladas

Oh, how my family loves enchiladas. It’s almost ridiculous how often we make and eat them. Typically we serve them piping hot with tortilla chips on the side to scoop up all the cheesy melted deliciousness.

Nothing beats a gooey cheese pull and these enchiladas don’t disappoint in that department. For the most flavorful cheese in this dish go with sharp cheddar or a Mexican blend.

Mexican blend cheese is worth it for its flavor and melting abilities. It is usually a combination of Monterey Jack, cheddar, Asadero, and Queso which all factor into how well it melts into that creamy, gooey goodness.

Pork, beef, and chicken all work quite well for enchiladas. For this recipe, I use rotisserie chicken – though, in a pinch, canned chicken from the pantry will work as well.

These chicken and bean enchiladas will be scoopable after resting for 15 minutes out of the oven. Let the dish rest a bit longer if you want to slice the enchiladas versus scoop them onto plates.

We typically serve them warm and scoopable with plenty of tortilla chips on the side for scooping the enchiladas.

Refried Bean Enchiladas

Refried Bean Enchiladas

While the majority of my enchilada recipes do contain beans, chicken with refried beans is a new variation for us and it’s been a huge hit! The refried beans form a creamy cheesy layer and the flavors work beautifully together.

Canned refried beans are a fantastic, simple hack for these enchiladas. I find that heating them and then slightly smashing or smearing them with a spoon helps to make them spreadabl