December 8, 2014

Staying Healthy Through the Winter Months: 6 Tips for Teachers

Staying Healthy Through the Winter Months: 6 Tips for Teachers

That time of year is upon us . . . sniffles and sneezes and wheezes. 
If your classroom feels like a germ factory, keep these simple steps in mind:

1. Eat your vegetables
Along with the treats from all the winter holidays, make sure you are giving your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Find fruits and veggies that are in season. Stock up on vegetable juices—it is a quick way to get your veggies (all teachers need that!) and doesn’t go bad as quickly.

2. Create a cleaning routine in the classroom
You know it’s true—the flu bug you caught this month came from the children. Reduce those germs by having a set time daily or weekly for disinfecting desks, chairs, doorknobs, and shelves! Use safe cleaners and be aware of kids with allergies or skin irritation.

3. Maintain your exercise routine
I am adding this one on this list because it is the one I struggle with the most! My motivation to go to the gym or on a quick run plummets in the winter. Why? It is cold. And no one will notice any weight change under all the sweaters and scarves. I would rather eat gingerbread. Did I mention the cold? You may need to set up a new system, give yourself a reward chart (borrow a sticker chart from school . . . ), or track your progress in a public way (that might mean tweeting your goals or starting a fitness challenge with teachers in your building). What works for you?

4. Set aside time each day to de-stress
It is easy to get tightly wound with all the hustle and bustle. You have tests to give (and grade), plans to make, and meetings to attend. You have to write calming emails to angry parents. And that is just at work. Chances are you have a trouble or two outside of your job as well. Do yourself a favor and STEP BACK. Give yourself credit for what you are doing. Choose a 15 minute block of time every day dedicated to stillness. Find your own brand of unwinding; the possibilities are vast, but you can start with one of these:
  • Breathe deeply
  • Tell yourself 5 things you are good at
  • Slowly eat a square of chocolate
  • Practice a yoga move or two
  • Remember all the funny things your students have said recently
  • Make a mental list of all the things you are genuinely grateful for

5. Get enough sleep
A rested body is in a much better place to fight infection—don’t overlook the importance of a consistent bed-time. I know you are tempted to stay up late putting another layer of ruffles on the tree skirt, or watching another re-run of Downton Abbey. Those are strong temptations, but you need time to regenerate for tomorrow. Grab a calming herbal tea or a hot rice bag instead of the remote or your sewing kit.

6. If you need a sick day, TAKE IT!
I know too many teachers who carry on through viruses and fevers needlessly. The world will not end if you stop to take care of yourself.  Your students will be fine. Get away from that copy machine and Go To Bed.

What do you do to stay healthy?

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