Dear Teachers: Enjoy a Healthy Year with These Tips

By Haley Bass | 08/07/2017

As the new school year quickly approaches, it’s time we turn our attention to one of the most incredible but underrated professions – teaching. While children are soaking up their last days of sunshine and freedom, teachers are already back in the classroom with notebooks full of ideas and anticipation for the year ahead. We’re so thankful for the abundant work educators do, so we want to make sure they stay healthy throughout the year!

There are few professionals who work as much overtime as teachers. Late nights perfecting lesson plans, early morning tutoring sessions, grading all weekend – on top of the already exhausting day of teaching and managing a classroom. With little sleep and too much stress, the body and mind are put under a lot of strain.

Teachers, the work you do every day is appreciated. And as selfless as you are, it’s time to focus on you right now. As you enter the new school year, here are some important ways to maintain your physical and emotional wellness.

Avoid the Germs

When you’re surrounded by children every day, it’s hard to avoid getting sick. Colds, flus, stomach viruses – whatever is being passed around the classroom is heading your way. While you can’t completely remove any chance of catching the next virus, you can at least reduce the risk.

Wash your hands as often as possible.

While hand sanitizer is better than nothing (and you should consider investing in a large pump for the classroom), it doesn’t have the same impact on germ removal as washing your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that handwashing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds to rub away the germs. When you can’t make it to a sink, stop at the hand sanitizer pump as a germ-removing supplement.

Get your flu shot.

This should really be a no-brainer. In a school setting where a lot of people exist in a confined space, the flu can spread rampantly. Teachers need to take every precaution they can, for the sake of their students and themselves. Since the flu shot is the number one line of defense against the flu, it’s your best bet to stay healthy and flu-free.

Keep Stress Levels Down

It’s hard not to be stressed when students, parents, administrators, coworkers, and even the government all expect something from you. But the more you allow yourself to get stressed out, the less you’ll enjoy doing what you do best – educating and encouraging young minds. Find an activity that calms you down or removes tension, then keep it up on a regular basis.

Kick back and relax.

There are two types of stress relief. The first: quieting your mind and relaxing. Whether you choose to meditate, practice yoga, or read, find an activity that allows you to step away from your stress for a moment. The Mayo Clinic lists many benefits of relaxation, like lowered blood pressure, improved concentration, and reduced frustration.

Boost endorphins by exercising.

On the other end of the stress relief spectrum is being active and exercising. Go on a walk or jog, take a swim, or head to the nearest Pilates class. Any activity that gets you up and moving can distract you from your daily worries and reduce your stress. The Mayo Clinic says that exercising boosts your endorphins (the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals) and improves your mood and energy levels.

Energize Your Mind and Body

As a teacher, you have to be “on” for your students all day, every day. That can be challenging after four hours of sleep and sugary cereal for breakfast. Refuel your body and mind every day with a good night’s sleep and a healthy dose of nutritious food and water.

Go to sleep.

Getting at least seven hours of sleep every night is essential to stay healthy and alert throughout the day. When you miss out on the sleep you need, your judgment, mood, and ability to learn are all impaired. In the long-term, a lack of sleep can lead to more serious diseases and health problems. Count back seven to eight hours from the time you need to wake up, and make sure you’re in bed without distractions at that time every night.

Drink water and eat healthy meals.

If you start feeling tired and weak throughout the day, you might not be drinking enough water. Our bodies require water to function properly, and staying hydrated is essential to maintain energy levels. Keep a big, refillable water bottle at your desk to avoid dehydration.

You also need to eat nutritious meals and snacks for better energy. Eat a good breakfast and lunch with lean proteins, vegetables, and complex carbs. With such a short lunch break, you may need to eat more snacks throughout the day. Keep energy-boosting snacks at your desk, like fruits and nuts.

Stay Positive

When you spill your coffee the second you get to school, your students don’t grasp the lesson you worked so hard on, or your last class was out of control, it can feel almost impossible to stay positive. But positivity and optimism are vital for your health and well-being, and letting all the negatives control you will only make the year miserable. You have a long year ahead of you, so decide now that you’re going to find a way to end every day on a positive note.

You can:

  • Re-read a sweet homemade card from a student to remember why you love your job
  • Make a positive phone call, whether it’s for your student who always follows the rules, or a challenging student that showed a little improvement that day
  • Keep a journal and write down one positive thing that happens every day, even if you’re grasping for something small

Teachers, we are so grateful for the selfless work you do. Keep up the positivity and energy with these tips, and enjoy a fun and healthy year!

School districts – if you want more tips on keeping your teachers healthy and safe, contact a Concentra work health expert.