This post was almost titled something like, “Your health sucks. Here is what to do about it.” That would have shook me as a younger teacher if I actually took the time to read it. But, how often do you hear policy makers talk about teacher health? I bet never.
Your health and energy level would lead to better learning. More importantly you deserve it. There is a lot of garbage you’ve heard about how to be your healthiest. There are no perfect answers that apply to everyone but common sense works for the most part.
Below is what has worked for me and helped me to have the most energy since I was a teenager.
And, this is what has worked for me as someone with a medical condition. If it works me it should work even better for you.
Your Physical Body – Optimize Your Physical Body
Develop an Exercise Routine – Just get started on one. Start with walking 10 minutes a day if you aren’t doing anything.
If you are already doing something basic consider adding some strength training a few days a week and more intense cardio some days. The 5×5 routine for strength is fantastic if you are looking for something simple and straightforward. Alternating running or jogging and walking is fantastic for cardio.
You will get endorphins that will make you feel better and teach better.
Exercise is a trade. You trade some short term suffering for a day of feeling better.
Making exercise a regular habit will also harden your body to the stresses of teaching.
It’s OK and encouraged to be selfish.
(Would you be interested in a 15 minute workout you could do inside your classroom that wouldn’t leave you to sweaty during your break? – Leave a comment)
Eat With Purpose – Be proactive about what you eat. Plan your meals, especially your lunch. Packing your lunch the night before will increase the odds of you eating healthy. When I have made my salad early in the morning or the night before I have been far more likely to avoid eating trash at school.
Keep track of what you eat and how it affects you, keep eating foods with the best results (weight loss, muscle building, energy, good mood, etc). Read about different diets and test some out. Start a Google Spreadsheet and start monitoring.
Are you eating for taste or how you will feel?
You can control how you feel when you know what foods do what to your body and energy levels. For most of my life I never made the connection. I can’t imagine how many people experience the same.
When I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now I followed none of these rules. I ate garbage and felt like garbage. You don’t have to be like me.
Take Care of Your Posture – What if your posture impacted your mood and energy level instead of vice versa? Amy Cuddy, author of “Presence”, (see TED Talk here) has done some fantastic work showing the benefits of good posture and how to practice it.
You aren’t just sending messages to your students with your posture. You are sending messages to yourself.
Are you happy? Stressed? Confident? Your posture can change this. Do this for yourself.
Breathing – Meditation/Wim Hof Breathing – I laughed when I heard about people “meditating” before. “What are they doing?” I’d think. “There is no way I could do that,” I’d say, as if I even wanted to.
I’ve gone from a meditation rookie to now having meditated well over 100 hours with Calm.com and HeadSpace.com.
Another form of breathing exercises I’ve found to reduce stress and improve energy is “Wim Hof Breathing.” It’s hard to explain in a blog post. This video from 3 minutes to the end is a good description of how to do it.
I recommend giving it a try.
Cold Showers – Cold showers are part of the Wim Hof regimen. They have a load of benefits but the main one for teachers is feeling reinvigorated for the day and a heightened tolerance for discomfort.
Hydration – I am one of those teachers who relies heavily on friends in the building to relieve me when I need to use the bathroom. This is a cost I am willing to pay for staying hydrated.
I go through 3 bottles of Ice Mountain a day and I am certain on the days I am hydrated I feel better.
The days I finish feeling crabby, exhausted, and have a headache I can generally track down the reason – dehydration.
It is either I didn’t eat right or didn’t hydrate enough. You can try this on yourself and I think you’ll find the same.
Snacking – I have become a snacker throughout the day. It has worked for me. But, it might not work for you. Testing it out is the only way to know. As with your lunch preparing this at night or early in the morning is your ticket to success.
I have found my energy to be highest with fruit, vegetables and high protein snacks such as nuts. My new favorite though are “Pure Protein” bars. These taste fantastic and have only 3 grams of sugar.
Stretching – I have started and stopped stretching a number of times. In hindsight I have noticed I felt a whole lot better on the days I stretched.
Wouldn’t your neck and shoulders feeling better help you be in a better mood while you were teaching? It does for me.
A stretch I have found great success with is reaching up as high as I can, looking up, and then leaning slightly back. I repeat this ten times and I feel it reverses the muscle tension from being hunched over reading or on your computer all day.
Foam rolling – For sure, I have also felt a ton better on nights I went home and used a foam roller to get all of the knots out of my legs and back from the day. You can find good deals on Amazon here. Here is a foam roller similar to what I use. I like it because it has the various nodules to get deeper into your muscles.
Want more teacher-centered tips on feeling less stressed and more energetic as a teacher?
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