By Teachers, For Teachers
For most teachers, the summer means sitting back and relaxing with your family after a long school year. For others, it means a few months of getting into shape and improving their health. You don’t have to become vegan or go to yoga every day. You don’t even have to join a gym or wear the latest exercise tracker to give your well-being a summer boost. Sometimes all you need is a few small changes which can in turn make the biggest impact on your life. This summer, try any (or all) of these teaching strategies to help you make a permanent shift to a healthier you.
The first thing that you should do is to create small, achievable goals that you know you can accomplish. If your goal is to eat better, then start by cleaning out your refrigerator and getting rid of all of the unhealthy foods. Buy only healthy foods, and be sure to put all of your fruits and veggies in a clear container (preferably glass, because it is better for you) on a shelf that is eye level. By doing this, every time you open up your fridge your eyes will first go towards the fruit and vegetables.
If your goal is to exercise, then make an appointment with yourself to exercise three times a week. Make sure that you add this to your calendar just as you would a doctor’s appointment. You would never miss a doctor’s appointment, so why should you miss this important time for yourself? Start small and make it for only 15 minutes (this is quite achievable for anyone) at a time. Once you have your workouts set on your calendar, think of what you want your exercise to be (riding a bike, taking a walk, doing a workout video, going swimming). Remember that any kind of movement is good movement. As long as you are moving your body, you are getting to a healthier you. Once you achieve these goals, then you can increase your goals one at a time. It’s important to note that your goals should be realistic and achievable, yet challenging.
The long school year probably left you worn out, tired, and stressed. While the summer is meant for relaxing and unwinding (which will definitely help your stress levels), it is also a great time to learn how to manage your everyday stresses. Mindfulness has gotten quite popular, and is a tool that a lot of people (including teachers) are using to help them manage their everyday stresses in life. Being mindful is just learning how to be in the present moment and turning your attention inward. You can basically just listen to your breath as you inhale and exhale, or you can take a quiet walk and pay attention to the noises of nature. You can even rest your eyes and listen to soft music, or download an app like Headspace to help you mindfully meditate. All you need is three to five minutes and you will be feeling noticeably calmer. If you get used to practicing this during the summer months, it will help you during the school year. You can even take this tool and apply it in your classroom with your students. Mind Yeti is a website that students can go on where they can watch and listen to a video that last from anywhere to three to five minutes. This site will help them calm down, focus, or connect to gratitude and kindness.
During the school year, you may be up late finishing up report cards or scouring the Internet for lesson plans, which means you are not getting enough sleep to stay healthy. This summer you must train your body to go to sleep at the same time, and get up at the same time every single day, even weekends (no sleeping in? Ugh). With a full night’s rest, you will have more energy, fewer mood swings, and the ability to focus better. With this high energy and sharper mind, you will be able to accomplish more and be happier throughout your day.
It’s important that you carry on this new sleep schedule into the school year. If you think that it will be impossible, it isn’t. All you have to do is designate a day or two right after school or right before school for grading papers and lesson planning. You can find time out of your busy day for important tasks so these tasks won’t disrupt your sleep at night.
While some people are perfectly capable of getting healthy on their own, others need a little help from a friend. If you are one of those people that just can’t seem to keep yourself motivated or only stick to something for a few days, then you need to recruit some social support. This can be a trainer to help motivate you, an exercise buddy to go to the gym with you, or even a social network community to help keep you accountable. When there is someone else counting on you there is a better chance that you will show up and stay committed to your goal.
As you begin this summer journey of a better you, you may notice that you enjoy the extra energy that you have. With this new found vitality, you should start doing something that you love and enjoy. When was the last time that you played tennis or jumped on a trampoline? Go out and find something that is active that you love to do. You will be happy and healthier because of it.
How do you plan to improve your health this summer while you are away from the classroom? Do you have any ideas that you would like to share? Please feel free to comment in the section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.