Wellness for Teachers
- September 13, 2020
- Posted by: ttadev
- Category: All Blog Postings
Five Non-tech Things you can do NOW that will increase your Overall Well-Being
I would estimate almost 80 percent of my free time this summer was spent researching new tech and communicating with my colleagues. I conquered Pear Deck and FlipGrid, discovered Parlay and Crash Course and dare I say I almost understand Microsoft Teams and Canvas. In short, this abrupt switch to distance learning has got teachers thinking outside the box, researching best practices and spending way more time than doctor-recommended on the screen. Can you relate?
I have no doubt that teachers will rise to the occasion this fall and will be prepared with not only lesson plans but plans A through D on Day 1. I know my colleagues have already spent countless hours finding new resources and tech tips to help us navigate the start to the year. I know they will stay up late thinking and reading and sharing best practices to social media groups. I am living this every day. But are they also able to stop and breathe? Have my trusted sources taken a pause to go for a run or meditate? Will they spend the time to cook a meal for themselves tonight? Are they still grateful? I selfishly need my teacher friends to be on their A-game come fall. They are my rock in all this chaos. The only way to keep going at the pace we need come September is to actually slow down. Here are five things we can do right now that will help us center, energize and focus our talents.
- Say I love you.
As you know, it feels good to say it and to hear it. But have you told yourself that lately? [cringe!] I know it sounds cheesy and if the only thing is does is make you laugh out loud a bit, I’m marking it as a win. To make this happen, do the following:
- Choose someone that needs to hear this now. Perhaps you can call someone to let them know, tell them face to face in a quiet room or grab a mirror to tell yourself.
- Be present with your words. Your words are your thoughts and they become your actions. When you say “I love you” something special happens. A feeling expressed leaves you feeling lighter. A bond created leaves you feeling stronger. A laugh shared leaves you feeling happier. Say it and be present with the feelings that follow.
- Do a short, tech-free 3-minute meditation
The science behind meditation is real. The Teacher’s Academy has a course on Mindfulness in Education and in the Wellness for Teachers course we will do a popular thought-watching meditation called “Clouds.” There are so many online guided meditations to search, but in the spirit of disconnecting, simply do this:
- Set your timer for 3 minutes.
- Close your eyes and sit tall.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Begin to count your breath.
- Exhale. Count 1.
- Exhale. Count 2.
- Continue to breathe and visualize your breath. Get curious about it.
- Your mind will naturally wander away from your breath. Gently bring it back and start at 1.
- Your goal is to stay focused on one particular thing. In this case, your breath.
Sit with the experience. When three minutes are up, gently open your eyes and assess how you feel. Give it a descriptor: Refreshed, energized, bored, sleepy, etc. There are methods to changing your meditation practice so that you don’t get bored or sleepy. If you enjoyed it, sit with that for a moment.
- Be in Nature
This could take on a host of different experiences. I’m not expecting you to head to the nearest national park, rather head to the window or better yet, outside to the front porch. Is it cold? Good. Breathe in the icy blast to fill your lungs and awaken the mind. Is it too hot? Feel the sun’s rays filled with vitamin D heal your skin and bones. Is it raining? Perfect. Let the sound of the rain trigger your childhood memories of splashing and catching drops on your tongue. If you can, sit on the ground. Put your hands in the dirt. Even contact with another living being (think pets!) will give you the connected, grounded experience we need to rejuvenate. Be in nature and sit with the sensation for a bit.
When you switch from autonomic to intentional breathing, something special happens. Your brain shifts to meta cognition mode and you begin thinking about thinking. Spending time here is known to sharpen your memory and overall cognition skills. To breathe mindfully, simply follow these steps.
- Place your hands on your belly (diaphragm)
- Inhale and feel the breath expand the body
- Exhale and let go of the breath
- Play with the length and intensity of the inhales and exhales
- Breath mindfully about 10 times.
When your heart rate increases, the first thing that happens is the body naturally releases endorphins. Endorphins is a natural mood booster. Not only does exercise stimulate the body to receive and utilize important nutrients which can lead to weight loss and muscular energy, but it also makes you happy. Try it.
- Do 30 jumping jacks and evaluate how you feel.
- Do 10 push-ups and 20 squats and see how you feel.
- Do a sun salutation and see how you feel.
Bonus: Sit with the good.
Notice each of these techniques require you to be present, see how you feel, sit with the sensation. Too often we hear positive affirmation and let it slide by or even dismiss it. Yet, we don’t let ourselves off the hook when the smallest mishaps occur. I am about to start teaching in a virtual learning environment. Despite my best efforts, I know things will not go as planned. Yet a lot did. Perhaps it’s time to just sit quietly and think about the “good stuff” for a minute. Maybe reflect on the things you’ve learned by living through a pandemic. Or think about the new lessons you created as a result from going all virtual or simply the support system you have at home to keep you going. Or the last compliment you received from someone. Sit with it for a moment longer than usual. That the “good” be your fuel.
Thank you to my core of teachers that are sending me updates, resources and most importantly hilarious memes that get me through each day. I love you all! (There, I did it!)
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