You’re busy. There’s no doubting that! And it’s far too easy to just. keep. going – that is, until you realise it’s 2 pm and you haven’t stopped all day. It may feel like you’ve only just started back in the classroom with your beautiful students, and now it’s time to ramp up again for the end of term! At times like these, it’s easy to throw your all into teaching and put yourself as an afterthought.
With that in mind, it feels a little bit crazy to come at you with an extensive list of “All of The Things Teachers Can Do To Reduce Stress and Increase Happiness”. I’m sure many of us have similar items on our self-care wish list: eat well, exercise, meditate, go to bed early…
So today, I’m ditching the full picture of wellness and giving you a few quick and easy things you can incorporate into each of your school days.
1. Hydrate with little sips, often.
This sounds like a no-brainer but is sometimes surprisingly hard to do. Make a habit of filling a large reusable water bottle every morning before you enter your classroom and stop to take a sip whenever you can.
The management of this will be different for everyone. But once you know, let’s say, the potential of your teacher bladder you can decide if you’re an all-day sipper or a pre-break guzzler! Either way, the aim is the same. Drinking at least 2 litres of water a day helps you to concentrate, increases your energy levels and goes a long way to keeping a tired body a lot more healthy.
2. Take Five and Eat That Sandwich.
Just five minutes.
To sit, with a sandwich and eat.
Not at the computer, or while marking homework sheets. It’s time to monotask. Take five and eat that sandwich.
If making your lunch for school each morning is a struggle, have a go at spending 20 minutes preparing some lunch each Sunday night and you’ll be thanking ‘Sunday Night You’ in a few days time. Freeze pre-made sandwiches with your favourite filling (ham and cheese for me!) and put together the same number of small containers with salads you can add to your sandwich each day (spinach, cucumber, lettuce, red onion and grated carrot perhaps?). Each morning, grab a sandwich from the freezer, along with a salad container and you’ve got some decent fuel for your body that day.
A mindful or meditative eating tip would have me encouraging you to take slow bites, thinking about the texture and the flavours while you chew (which I do, actually, highly recommend!). However, if this sounds absolutely nuts to you then simply begin with allowing yourself five minutes in the day to just eat.
… or maybe even take one mindful bite and the rest can be regular bites!
3. Stand Up, Take a Deep Breath and Stretch.
Time: 10 seconds
Equipment: 1 x You
- Stand up.
- Close your eyes (optional).
- Take a deep breath in, stretching your arms above your head.
- Breathe out, lowering your arms.
- Resume regular, fast-paced activity.
4. Look at the Sky.
There’s a reason why kids get “cabin fever” after successive rainy days. Getting outside of four walls triggers something wonderful in all of our brains and is something teachers need to do too!
This mini-moment really can just be mini. Stand outside and take a small moment to look at the sky. Or a tree. Or to feel the cold wind or the sun on your face. If you can’t get outside, stand by a window.
Give your body and mind a split-second reminder of your connection to the big picture. Whatever that may be for you.
I challenge you…
To find a way to make this mini-moment approach to self-care work for you.
- Write these four mini-moments on a post-it note and stick it to the side of your laptop.
- Allocate a coloured star for each mini-moment and stick it on the day’s square on your desk planner, calendar or diary each time you take the moment (this is a great way visual tracker that will show you if it’s been a long while since you’ve given yourself a bit of love and self-care!).