It can be overwhelming as we start to close the chapter on summer and prepare for a fresh school year. While parents and children are getting their school lists ready and buying their back-to-school necessities, educators are also doing the prep work for the new year. As you head back to the classroom it’s important to approach the new year with a focus on health and wellness. Here are some helpful tips for teachers that can promote a healthy return to the classroom.
Adjust Your Sleep Schedule
It’s time to set that alarm again. You may have gotten used to sleeping in the last several months, and it can be a shock to your system when the alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. – or earlier for many educators and other school personnel. In the days leading up to the first day of school, I recommend getting to bed earlier and waking up sooner. This can make it easier to get up on your first alarm. A good night’s sleep will help you to start your day fresh and ready for your new schedule.
Plan Your Meals
After a full workday on your feet teaching, you may be too exhausted to spend time in the kitchen preparing dinner. Try using the time you have left of summer to make some meals that you can store in your freezer. This allows you to save time and makes meal time a lot less stressful. Here are some suggestions for what you can incorporate into your meals to give your body the energy it needs to function properly:
- non-starchy carbohydrates
- healthy fats
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is so important to keep your energy up and reduce daytime fatigue. Drinking plenty of water during the day also models healthy behaviors for students. It can be hard to remember to stay hydrated during the day, so try these tips to help remind you to stay hydrated:
- Use a refillable water bottle that is easy and quick to drink from
- Set reminders on your phone to take a sip of water
You can also get your water intake from the foods you eat that are rich in water. The most hydrating fruits and vegetables include:
- Baby carrots
- Bell peppers
There are so many germs in the classroom and sickness spreads quickly and easily. Make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccines before you head back to school, so you can keep yourself healthy and protected. It’s not long after school begins that flu season is right around the corner. Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Similarly, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the single best way to prevent serious illness as a result of transmission. Depending on your age, you may be eligible for a COVID-19 booster, particularly helpful as more variants circulate. Check with your primary care doctor to review other vaccines appropriate for your age and needs, such as shingles or the HEP-B vaccine.
Wash Your Hands
Vaccines are the best way to prevent the spread of most viruses, but there are other helpful steps to stay healthy. Set aside time throughout the day for yourself and your students to take handwashing breaks. Use soap and warm water and scrub for 15-20 seconds. Using hand sanitizer is also suitable. Remind your students to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Teach students to cough or sneeze into their upper sleeve or elbow, not their hands.
Self-Care is Key
It can be hard to find time to decompress and relax after a hectic day. I encourage you to make a self-care routine so that you can take care of your mental health. To maintain long-term physical and psychological health, you need to make time for yourself and to relax. There are many activities that promote mindfulness and stress-relief like meditation, yoga or scheduling routine exercises throughout your week. When you are well-rested and take time to do things that you enjoy, you are ultimately better equipped to handle almost anything that comes your way.