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Being a teacher is, by far, one of the most challenging professions out there. You spend endless hours grading papers, writing tests, and preparing lessons, you’re chronically exhausted, and you’re expected to fulfill all of the hopes and dreams of motivated students and overbearing parents, all the while preparing students for countless standardized tests. Teachers are warriors, in more ways than one, and they play a pivotal role in the way our children learn, grow up, and contribute to society.
We both know that teachers are remarkably important, and we know that health is a vital part of any effective teacher, or any effective person, for that matter. Teachers are always putting their students’ needs before their own, but they need to remember to take care of themselves and focus on their own health and wellness whenever possible. While physical health is, of course, important, your mental and emotional health are just as significant when it comes to your overall wellness and your ability to do your job well. Check out some of the best health tips that every teacher should know so that life and learning are the best they can be.
Make Wise Food Choices
This is an obvious first tip. Eat healthy foods. Avoid junk foods. This means that you should be consuming fruits and vegetables multiple times a day, eat enough protein, and stay away from processed and sugary foods and drinks. Just as your students need proper nutrition to enhance their learning, you need suitable nourishment to ensure your brain is firing on all cylinders as well. Eating well will keep you from being hungry in the middle of class, feeling groggy throughout the day, and getting sick multiple times during the year. This tip may include bringing your own lunch from home, which means some extra time on the weekends or in the morning preparing a healthy, well-balanced meal to bring to school.
We know coffee can be the teacher’s beverage of choice, but do your best to limit the amount of caffeine you consume each day. Water should be your primary drink each and every day, including during meals. We know it can be a pain to have to rush to the bathroom between classes or while your students are in the middle of a test, but you need to be sure you’re drinking at least 64 ounces of water each day, if not significantly more, to ensure you are well-hydrated.
I know, I know—when do you have the time to exercise? Finding the time to be active is a challenge for most people, but it needs to be something you prioritize. Maybe you get up early and hop on the elliptical, maybe you can take a walk after dinner, or maybe you can make it to a spin class three afternoons a week. Whatever your activity of choice is, be sure to prioritize it and ensure that you are staying active throughout the week. This keeps your body healthier and your mind sharper.
Get Enough Sleep
Again, we know that this can be a challenge. A lack of sleep can result in a myriad of health problems and illnesses, and being exhausted regularly significantly decreases your overall quality of life. Do your best to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and it’s even better if you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Getting enough sleep will boost your immune system to fight off germs, help your body heal when you are facing an illness, and improve your overall mood and mindset.
Make Time for Yourself
It seems as though a teacher’s work is truly never done. There are always tests to be graded, papers to be read, lessons to plan, and more. It can be easy to work all day at school, take stuff home with you to work on at night, and then do it all again the next day. We know you’re committed, and that is awesome, but you need to be sure to make time for yourself sometimes. Maybe that means having a picnic in the living room with your family one night or spending a weekend afternoon at the spa. Maybe it’s taking a quick weekend getaway with a friend or simply reading a book for pleasure in the evening. Whatever it is that helps you relax and recharge—do it! It will help you stay mentally healthy which will positively affect your physical health and overall wellbeing.
Spend Time with Other Teachers
We know you see other teachers throughout your day, and you likely talk to them during meetings and at lunch. But when you spend quality time with other teachers outside of the school environment, it can be hugely beneficial to your overall mindset, which improves your mental health as well as your physical health. We’re not encouraging gossip here, but sharing some frustrations with other teachers will show you that you’re not alone in your struggles and challenges. You will get support and encouragement, and you’ll likely gain a special comradery with other teachers when you spend time talking with them about things that matter, including struggles and successes.
The mind has incredible power, and staying positive can mean the difference between health and sickness. Studies have been done and books have been written that prove how important positivity is when it comes to overall wellness. Being optimistic, even about something you’re less than excited about, will keep your spirits up and will keep anxiety away. A study done by John Hopkins researchers found that positive people were one-third less likely to have a cardiovascular issue than those who are more negative, even though they had a history of cardiovascular illnesses in their family. At the same time, those who are more positive-minded are believed to be better protected against the inflammatory damage that comes with stress. Positive mindsets are also directly linked to better outcomes in life, even with serious illnesses like tumors or traumatic brain injury. Being an overall positive person also helps individuals make wiser decisions in life and in their health journey, and it helps people focus more on long-term goals and overall success in life.
Engage in Preventative Care
If you get sick during the school year, you often have to do whatever it takes to get well again so you can get back to your classroom and your students. In addition to practicing all of the health tips above, you can engage in preventative care throughout the year to help yourself fight off sicknesses more effectively. Things like chiropractic care and counseling are great ways to keep your body and mind functioning to the best of their ability so that you can stay healthy and well all school year.