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Balancing Act: Cultivating Mental and Physical Health as a Teacher

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Published date: 2024/02

Balancing Act Cultivating Mental And Physical Health As A Teacher (2)

Teaching is a noble profession that demands dedication, passion, and a commitment to lifelong learning. Amid the hustle and bustle of lesson plans, grading, and classroom management, it's easy for educators to overlook their own well-being. Education Support's 2023 teacher wellbeing found the rate of teachers wellbeing to be at its lowest since 2019 having dropped since the pandemic. However, prioritizing mental and physical health is crucial for sustaining a fulfilling and impactful teaching career. In this article, we'll explore practical strategies for cultivating a healthy balance in both realms.

Mindful Breaks

Teaching can be intense, and it's vital to incorporate short breaks throughout the day. Use this time to practice mindfulness, whether through deep breath

Inhale and Exhale

ing exercises, a short walk, or a moment of quiet reflection. These breaks can help alleviate stress and improve focus. Used across a variety of settings, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR;Kabat-Zinn, 1990) is a widely known form of mindfulness training that has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004;Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010).[1]

 

Set Realistic Breaks

Establishing boundaries between work and personal life is challenging but essential. Define clear working hours, and once the workday is done, allow yourself to disengage from school-related tasks. This separation creates a mental space for relaxation and recharging. Harvard Business Review carried out research on work-life balance and found that “achieving better balance between professional and personal priorities boils down to a combination of reflexivity – or questioning assumptions to increase self-awareness – and intentional role definition”[2]

Proritise Sleep

In 2022 a “source reported that between 36 to 61 percent of Teachers reported insomnia symptoms. Teachers can suffer physical and mental h

Sleeping clock

ealth difficulties from not keeping a regular sleep schedule. Exhaustion, poor immunity, and cardiovascular issues can result from sleep loss”[3]Quality sleep is the foundation of good health. Ensure you're getting sufficient rest each night, as it directly impacts cognitive function, mood, and overall well-being. Establish a consistent sleep routine to promote better sleep hygiene.

 

Physical Activity

Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine. Whether it's a brisk walk, a workout session, or yoga, exercise has proven benefits for both mental and physical health through the release of endorphins. Find activities that you enjoy to make it a sustainable part of your lifestyle. “A study with 230 teachers found that there was a statistically significant positive association between levels of physical activity and mental well-being among teachers”[4]

 

Nutrition matters

Nutrition Matters

As educators, it's easy to rely on quick and convenient meals, but a balanced diet is essential. Fuel your body and mind with nutrient-rich foods, staying hydrated throughout the day. Proper nutrition contributes to sustained energy levels and overall vitality. “To stay full with lasting energy and support digestion and promote mental health, fiber is the most important nutrient for Teachers. Fiber is a slow-digesting carbohydrate that is found in

plant-based foods. Think seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, beans and whole grains”[5]

 

Cultivate a Support System

Connect with fellow educators, both within and outside your school. Sharing experiences, challenges, and successes with others who understand the unique demands of teaching can provide valuable support and camaraderie. LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with not only colleagues but teachers worldwide. You are able to share and read other educators experiences whilst writing your own.

 

Continuous Learning for Yourself

Just as you encourage your students to embrace learning, don't forget to invest in your own professional and personal growth. Attend workshops, read books, and explore new interests. Continuous learning can bring fresh perspectives and a sense of accomplishment.

 

Relflect and Celebrate Successes

Take time to reflect on your achievements, no matter how small. Celebrate the positive impact you've made on students' lives. Acknowledging your successes fosters a positive mindset and reinforces your passion for teaching.

 

Celebrate and reflect

Balancing the demands of teaching with personal well-being is an ongoing journey. By prioritizing mental and physical health, educators not only enhance their own lives but also contribute to creating a positive and thriving learning environment for their students. Remember, taking care of yourself is an investment in the long and rewarding journey of being an educa

tor.

References

[1] Flook L, Goldberg SB, Pinger L, Bonus K, Davidson RJ. Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout and teaching efficacy. Mind Brain Educ. 2013 Sep;7(3):10.1111/mbe.12026. doi: 10.1111/mbe.12026. PMID: 24324528; PMCID: PMC3855679.

[2]Work-life balance is a cycle, not an achievement. Harvard Business Review (2021, January 29) https://hbr.org/2021/01/work-life-balance-is-a-cycle-not-an-achievement#:~:text=At%20a%20high%20level%2C%20our,awareness%20%E2%80%94%20and%20intentional%20role%20redefinition.

[3]The impact of sleep deprivation in Teachers. Amerisleep (2023, October 09) https://amerisleep.com/blog/sleep-deprivation-in-teachers/#:~:text=And%20a%202022%20overview,can%20result%20from%20sleep%20loss.

[4] AL-Johani, Riyadh Mohammed. Effect of physical activity on mental wellbeing among teachers of secondary school in Almadina city, Saudi Arabia. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care 10(11):p 4264-4271, November 2021. | DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_906_21

[5] Eating for teaching. International teaching magazine (2023, January 04) https://consiliumeducation.com/itm/2021/05/19/eating-for-teaching/#:~:text=To%20stay%20full%20with%20lasting,%2C%20beans%2C%20and%20whole%20grains.

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