Teaching is exhausting work. Teaching during a pandemic, with frequent switches between in-person instruction and distance delivery instruction, is exponentially more exhausting. Over the past week I’ve had conversations with a number of teachers who have given all they can and are experiencing high degrees of stress. Here’s my order to you: Take care of SELF as follows:
- Sleep: I am a student of sleep (I really like the homework!), and I am a promoter of sleep. Sleep is absolutely necessary and vitally crucial to physical and mental well being. It is easy during the week to fall into a pattern of staying up late and getting up early, because there is much to do. This weekend allow yourself to sleep. Shut down the electronics, get the bedroom temperature between 66 and 68 degrees, darken the room, and settle in. You’ll be more productive in the hours you are awake, because your mind and body will be well rested.
- Eat: Nutrition is also crucial to physical and mental well being. In my teacher house, lunches tend to be quickly thrown together and similar day to day. Evening meals can also follow the same suit, because there is much to be done in the evenings. Break the cycle this weekend. Slow down. Eat something nutritious – fresh fruits, vegetables, you know the drill – and take notice of how different you feel. Your body will thank you for it.
- Laugh: My favorite book of ancient wisdom notes that laughter is like a medicine for the heart. I believe it! Laughter releases stress and a host of happy chemicals in our brain. Our laughter also moves our breathing muscles, so we tend to breathe deeper. Our brain and body feel better as a result. Find a joke, cartoon, or show to watch that will make you laugh. Last weekend, I watched “The Producers.” If you appreciate the irreverent comedy of Mel Brooks, you’ll get quite a laugh from that show.
- Fitness: I’m no gym rat, but I can attest to the importance of undertaking fitness activities to improve the overall quality of life. Moving your body helps ease stress. Simply walking for twenty minutes does wonders. If the weather is nice, walk outside and soak up some sunshine. If walking isn’t your thing, try yoga (yes, I’ve done yoga – don’t judge). You’ll be amazed at how much your muscles work and then relax. It really does help.
Your students need you to be at your best. Refill your well, so that you have much to give to your students next week. You and your students will be glad you did!