Science Technicians play a hugely important role in ensuring that schools deliver an engaging and safe science education to their pupils.
Yet sometimes as a Science Technician, you can feel overworked and under appreciated. Sounds familiar? You’re not alone. In 2020 The National Foundation for Educational Research* found that school Science Technicians are often overlooked as a profession.
The wellbeing of the school Science Technician is therefore essential to the science department as a whole. There is lots of amazing support available and some fantastic techniques you can adopt to banish the stress and get you back to the top of your game.
Why do Science Technicians feel stressed?
Science Technicians have to juggle a lot of priorities in a day and sometimes it can all get a bit too much – after all, we are only human. With around half of Science technicians working part time, there can be a lot to cram in to working hours. Some of the triggers for stress could include:
- Managing expectations of others within the science department and wider school
- Education policy and Science curriculum changes
- Staff shortages or working as a lone Science Technician
- Responsibility for health and safety of pupils and staff at all times
That is before home and family life comes into the equation. With so much going on, what can Science Technicians do to improve wellbeing?
Ideas for Science technicians to improve wellbeing
- Remember you are doing an amazing job
- Look after your physical health
- Give mindfulness a try
- Three things to be thankful for
- Establish your sleep patterns
- Eat well (and a little bit of what you fancy too)
- Ask for help and talk about it
- Work smarter not harder
- Remember why you wanted to be a Science Technician
- Learn to say no more often
- Try new things to see what works for you
Remember you are doing an amazing job
You will always be our Science super hero. It is because of you that budding scientists get to experience hands on practicals safely. But if you are ever doubting your ability… that shows that you care and want to do your best. Put things into perspective and think about the things that go well, rather than focus on the one thing that could have gone better that day.
Look after your physical health
Exercising regularly can easily lift your mood and also produces lots of lovely endorphins, the feel good neurochemical. We are not advocating you run a marathon or hit the gym every day. A quick online yoga workout, taking the dog a walk, or a little bike ride with the family can all help.
Give mindfulness a try
Mindfulness requires a lot of concentration and the good news is that it takes just five minutes of your day. The aim is to pay attention to the present moment, thoughts and feelings to understand ourselves better. Not sure where to start? Apps such as Calm, Headspace or Mindful guide you through some mindfulness sessions to unwind and refocus attention.
Three things to be thankful for
Give yourself three simple things to be thankful for each day. It doesn’t have to be anything deep or ambitious. It could be your health, your children making you laugh, your pet. Write them down in a journal or pop them in a jar on a piece of paper. Next time you’re having a bad day, look back at what you are thankful for.
Establish your sleep patterns
Time and time again, Science proves that sleep is good for us. Sleep helps us recharge the batteries and start the day refreshed and raring to go. If you are struggling to sleep, try mindfulness, exercise, eating well, turning off your tech early, not looking at the news… whatever works best for you.
Eat well (and a little bit of what you fancy too)
Diet also plays a big part in a heathy mind and body. Research suggests a diet with more fibre, plus reduced saturated fats and sugar is best. So whilst that means reducing caffeine, alcohol and stodgy food intake, it doesn’t mean depriving yourself. A little bit of what you fancy can be an occasional treat too, be it your morning coffee perk or end of week takeaway.
Ask for help and talk about it
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ goes the old adage. And it is true! Talking to someone else about it can offer a fresh perspective, or a way to solve the problem that you didn’t think about. Often, people are not aware of the pressures that you face and you can come up with a solution together.
Work smarter not harder
At times, it can feel like you have a mountain of work to complete as a Science Technician. But where to start?
A good place to begin is writing down a list of things you need to do. Then, using the ‘urgent/important’ matrix below, prioritise which needs to be done first and makes the most impact. Anything falling in the not urgent / not important box can wait for another day, or even be crossed off your list.
As you tick through your urgent / important tasks, it is a great visual reminder as to how far you have come today.
Remember why you wanted to be a Science Technician
Was it your passion for Science? The work-life balance of the hours to suit family life? A desire to help inspire the next generation of Scientists? Is there an area of Science which particularly enthuses you? Go back and explore the reasons why you became a Science Technician in the first place.
Learn to say NO more often
The word NO can change your life for the better, if you use it wisely. Sometimes the role of a Science Technician can be misunderstood, so remember that alongside your professional duties, your mental health is important too. We all love to help, but sometimes it is best to simply say no.
Try new things to see what works for you
You don’t have to do everything on this list. Dip in and out and find what work best for you. Ask around – friends, family, colleagues and other Science Technicians may have ideas on what could work for you too. Wellbeing is as individual to you as your fingerprint, so take time to work out what helps you most.
Tell us about your wellbeing ideas for Science Technicians
Perhaps there is something that works for you that we have not included on this list. Tell us all about it on our Twitter and Facebook pages. Who knows, you could even help another Technician along the way!
*In partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Gatsby Foundation and with Input from the Association of Science Education (ASE)