We all have reasons we want to get and stay healthy. Some may want to look and feel better. Others want to have more energy to play with their grandchildren. As teachers, it’s important that we take care of ourselves. It helps us perform our best in the classroom and be there for our loved ones. Check out the list of health and wellness tips for teachers below to get some inspiration!
5 Health and Wellness Tips for Teachers
Below are 5 health and wellness tips for teachers.
If you’re like me, you would love to whack that alarm clock with all your might when it blares it’s tune every morning around 5:15am. I love sleep and would love to get more of it because I rarely feel rested! Of course, we all know it’s important to get our “8 hours of sleep”, but is that really possible as a teacher? It is, and you’re going to want to start working harder to get that consistent 8 hours of sleep.
Lack of sleep, or irregularity of sleep, can lead to many health problems including diabetes, heart problems, stroke and obesity. Each time you lose sleep, you’re preventing your brain from reenergizing and preparing you for the day ahead. This can affect your ability to communicate with your students, focus during the day, and even your ability to drive home after work. No amount of coffee can replace the brainpower you lose with sleep deprivation.
So how can you get more sleep?
- Start with what we have our kids do. Go to bed at a specific time every night. Be consistent with your bedtime and wake up time to receive the optimal amount of sleep.
- Have a bedtime routine setup that will encourage relaxation (no iPhones playing Candy Crush or checking your emails). Use this time to catch up on some light reading.
- Although it may sound enticing to take a nap when you get home from work, avoid it! Your body will not be ready to go to bed at your set bedtime if you’ve taken a nap, especially late in the afternoon.
- Get comfortable! Make sure you have on pajamas that are allowing you to relax and breathe and a mattress that isn’t about to blind you with a protruding spring.
The second health and wellness tip for teachers is to hydrate. This can be hard for teachers because it’s sort of a catch-22. We talk and talk all day long and need to keep drinking because of it, however, we need to avoid as many liquids as possible because we can’t just go to the bathroom whenever we want. This one will take some preparation and a good teammate. There is usually someone that can come relieve you for a quick potty break (a teacher across the hall, a teacher walking past your classroom, an office staff member who adores you, etc.), so don’t be afraid to ask! If you’re not comfortable doing that, prepare your body ahead of time (say, summer) for going a few hours without the bathroom. Test out how much liquid your body can hold before you “just have to go.” I call this “training my bladder.” It may seem silly, but hydration is crucial to your overall health.
Here are some other tips to helping your body stay hydrated:
- Snack on fruits and vegetables is a great way to get the hydration without the urgency to run to the bathroom. Items like celery or melons are great for this.
- Try a straw with your cup of water. You’ll find yourself sipping almost mindlessly and drinking more than you thought you would.
- Avoid foods that will have the opposite effect: dehydration. Sugary, sweet, salty foods are a staple in almost all teachers’ desk drawers, but they can be making you more thirsty and dehydrated than you should be.
- Keep your reusable water bottle or cup with you in the classroom. If it’s in your face, you won’t forget to drink it!
- Not a big water drinker? Try infusing your water with sugar free drink mixers (crystal light perhaps) or with fresh fruit! This will kill your cravings for sweets and keep you hydrated which is a win-win!
We all know that we’re supposed to exercise and eat right to stay healthy, but do we always do it? No. I come home from work and I’m exhausted and the last thing on my mind is “I need to work out.” This, like everything else in this step, will require time and dedication in order for it to become a habit. The benefits of exercise include sleeping better, lower weight, fewer health problems, and more energy. You can achieve all of those things just by doing 30-60 minutes of exercise a day.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Chunk your workout time. It can be hard to find a set 30-60 minutes a day to spend working out, so space it out! Spend 10 minutes in the morning doing jumping jacks, pushups, and situps when you get out of bed. Power walk to the office instead of strolling down the halls to add in another few minutes to your routine. With how many trips you’ll walk to the office or copy room in a day, it will definitely add up! Dance around the living room with your kids while dinner is in the oven (this is a fun way to get your heart rate up and spend quality time together). End the day with some yoga stretching before bed and you’ll be on your way to a more healthy life.
- Lift small weights while watching TV. Instead of lifting your hand between your box of crackers or cookies and your mouth, lift weights instead! Remember to start small though, so you don’t overdo it.
- Walk everywhere you can! Park at the farthest spot away from the school or from the door to the store. Those extra steps add up quickly.
- Look into a device that tracks your steps or exercise. You can program it to sync to your phone and compete in step challenges with friends for “awards”. Exercise is always better when we can share it with friends.
The fourth health and wellness tip for teachers is to eat a healthy diet. This goes hand-in-hand with a previous step of meal prep. The right, balanced diet can change your life. The benefits include a healthy weight, more energy, fewer health concerns, and sleeping better. The key word in all this though, is balance. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your Friday trip to Tutti Frutti with the kids, but it does mean that you have to make smarter choices about what food you put into your body regularly.
Here are some ways to make sure you’re making smarter, healthier choices (especially at work):
- Eliminate that stockpile of sweet and salty goodness hiding in your desk drawer. If you need a sweet treat one day after school after you’ve eliminated your stash, you’ll have to work for it and walk to someone who has something to offer you.
- Stick with your meal plans. If you spent time planning out dinners for the week or have freezer meals ready to go, stick to the plan! Changes to meal plans often lead to impulse ordering/purchasing which is detrimental to your diet plan. You might be interest in this post about saving money on groceries.
- Keep healthy snacks with you. Prepare ahead of time for cravings that might hit and have a stash of go to health snacks in your desk drawer.
- Keep it balanced. Make sure your meals have a good balance of fruit, veggies, carbs, protein, and some fats (the healthy kind of course). If you feel deprived, you’re likely to binge on something that you really shouldn’t.
- Remember that this isn’t about losing weight, this is about changing your life and becoming a healthier you!
5. Revamp Additional Health and Wellness Areas
Below are 3 areas you may want to consider revamping. These are not traditional health and wellness tips for teachers, but they are important.
You may not think your clothing choices affect your health, but what you put on your body can be almost as important as what you put in your body. We all have dress codes at work, and I’m pretty sure no school will allow us to show up in PJs or yoga pants on a daily basis, so you need to choose clothing that works with your dress code that is also comfortable. More importantly, choose shoes that are comfortable! We are on our feet all day and we need the comfort and support of a good pair of shoes. Splurge for those extra supportive memory foam shoes at the beginning of the year and you’ll be happy you did!
When I leave work (or head into work), I usually look like I’m auditioning to be the next juggler at the circus. I’m balancing a purse, a lunch box, a teacher bag or two, my keys, my coffee cup, and my water bottle. It’s quite a spectacle. However, having an oversized teacher bag filled to the brim with “to-dos” can actually be hurting your health. Think of all the weight you’re throwing over your shoulder while you’re trying to overcompensate for the unbalance by leaning to the side. That’s hurting your back (and we all know everything is connected, so prepare for more pain elsewhere in return). You’re also setting yourself up for additional stress by bringing home work that should be staying at school. How often do you really attack that stack of papers that you lugged home? It’ll still be there tomorrow, so if you’re not on a strict deadline, it can wait, and it can wait for you at school.
Remember how I said no Candy Crush before bed? Well, you may need to eliminate more than just Candy Crush from your daily routine. Studies have shown that social media like Facebook can actually make you feel more depressed about your life because of your constant need to compare your life to those who are posting about theirs. Unplug more and enjoy better sleep, more family time, and exercise time.
In closing, we hope you found these health and wellness tips for teachers helpful. As with any habit, these will take time to become a part of your daily life. Your health is worth the struggle and frustration that you’ll have in the beginning as you try to change some of your ways to develop these healthier habits. Just like with everything else in life, we “keep moving forward” (Walt Disney).