Nathan Curnow, Head of Science at John Curtin College of the Arts in Western Australia, shares insights into how he cares for his mental health and wellbeing.

Educator insights: Nathan Curnow

To care for my own wellbeing I… make it something I plan for and talk about increasingly openly. If it is not visible and valued, it is easy for it to become neglected.

To switch off from work I… go and treat myself to a good coffee, spend time with loved ones or find something to read. Although I can be really erratic with it, a session at the gym, a swim or a big walk with the dog tend to give me perspective and help me clear my head.

My favourite meal is… one I have taken the time to make from scratch, like a lasagne, pizza or home-made pull-apart loaf. Worth the effort and great to share.

I care for others around me by… trying to listen, first and foremost. Not everyone needs or wants the same things. I also try to acknowledge and display gratitude for each person’s effort and input, regardless of what else is going on.

I am grateful for… my partner, my son and my friends and family. I tend to set ambitious agendas for my time and energy and they are very good at supporting me without letting me lose touch with what I can realistically achieve.

My workout playlist always includes… something funky, something catchy, something ahead of its time and something mellow to wind down to.

A book I’d recommend reading is… Atomic Habits by James Clear or Tiny Habits: the Small Changes that Change Everything by BJ Fogg. These books really helped me rethink how to approach the kinds of positive changes I wanted to make in my work-life balance. Indistractable by Nir Eyal, whilst not always practical for a working teacher, also gave me some excellent ways to think about my time, how I structure it and how I use it to best effect.

On the weekend I like to… channel my energy into other pursuits. I have always blocked off Friday night to do things for myself, like meeting friends for dinner and games. I am very bad at ‘doing nothing’ with my time on weekends, so I tend to find things to get me off the couch or out of the house as an alternative to sitting still or working all the time.

The thing I love most about where I live is… the greater separation between work and home. Not only are there nice parks and bushland, but it feels removed from work and the longer commute has been a blessing for helping me separate work and home. I’ve always lived near enough to work that it has been relatively easy to give in to temptation and spend some time on the weekend working in the office.

The best advice I’ve ever received… ‘Be not afraid of growing slowly, only of standing still.’

How do you care for your own health and wellbeing? Do you have any tips that you’d like to share with your colleagues in education? We’d love to hear about them. Here’s a handy guide on how to get started.