10 Ways To Keep Well

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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How can you keep yourself fighting fit?

It’s the final countdown!

The last few weeks before the summer holidays are some of the busiest, draining, emotional and chaotic of the year. This means looking after No.1 and keeping well so you can cross the finishing line without collapsing in a heap or falling sick.

With so much on your plate in the next few weeks it is essential to follow a few basic steps and keep an eye on your health and wellbeing so you can enjoy the half-term and everything it throws at you.

Take a look at our immunity-boosting tips to make sure that you don’t lose your wellness mojo at this key time of the year.

10 Top Tips To Avoiding Sickness

1. Wash Your Hands

Hand hygiene in a busy school environment is essential and healthy teachers make sure they wash their hands lots of times during the day. Children are notorious for not washing their hands (or not washing their hands properly) after visiting the loo so no high fives! Resources, equipment and furniture are covered in germs – see our blog ‘Dirty Schools’ for more details.

2. Don’t Touch Your Face

Dirty hands can easily transfer germs to other parts of our body and healthy teachers don’t don’t their faces. Instead of rubbing your eyes and touching your nose and mouth, use a tissue or your forearm instead.

3. Eat Well And Stay Hydrated

Healthy ‘avocado’ teachers avoid convenience foods and prepare their own lunches and snacks to nibble on through the day. Long days and stressful situations can push you into selecting comfort food and a little indulgence is fine but aim to pack plenty of fruit, nuts, salad and home-made meals rather than a ‘bung it in the microwave’ job. Keep sipping water regularly through the day to keep hydrated.

4. Exercise…Outside

Teaching involves a surprising amount of activity even if you are based in one class. Fitbit users will tell you you can soon rack up a few thousand steps but this isn’t exercise to nourish mind, body and soul. Outdoor exercise after school is a must and healthy teachers find time to incorporate at least a 15-30 mins walk into their busy day to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and to get the cells moving round the body.

5.  Take Time Out

Taking time off to power down, unplug and detach from teaching is healing and helps you avoid stress and burnout. We are all devoted to what we do and we are all guilty of over doing it but being a workaholic teacher and teaching addict is a one way ticket to burnout and multiple visits to your medical centre. Set yourself boundaries and stick to them to keep fighting fit.

6. Don’t Bottle Things Up

Everyone needs to get things off their chest and so keeping your feelings and emotions bottled up day in and day out makes you a ticking time-bomb. Work-related stress is normal, sometimes healthy, but unless a trouble is shared you can soon lose perspective and explode at the most unlikeliest of moments.  Whatever is in your bottle, uncork, pour it out and talk.

7.  Be a 2%er

Healthy teachers avoid toxic talk and distance themselves from the moaners and groaners. They are optimistic, energetic and sunny side up. Being upbeat and positive does you good and it rubs off on others, especially children. A positive mindset can prevent you feeling dispirited and overwhelmed and stops you entering a cycle of complaint. They don’t get drawn in! See what a 2% mindset looks like in our blog Stop Moaning.

8. Get Some Sleep

The magic bullet is plenty of shut-eye and healthy teachers get quality sleep and proper rest. Research shows us that if we only get 5-6 hours sleep a night we have a 30% chance of getting a cold when exposed to the virus. If we can manage more than 7 hours then we reduce the risk to 17%. Sleep is key, it is our secret weapon.

9. Manage Stress

Healthy people manage stress and accept it is an inevitable part of life but develop a mental resolve and hardiness that makes them able to cope. We can all manage stress in a healthy way but controlling our responses to stressors through affirmations, visualisations, exercise and seeking help when we need it.

10. Stay Connected

Despite being surrounded by people all day, teaching can be a lonely experience. Staying healthy means being connected to colleagues during the day and having connections beyond teaching where teacher talk is out of bounds. They don’t neglect their non-teacher friends because they know all work and no play is the enemy of wellbeing.

And finally…

Building, boosting, supplementing and maintaining our immune systems throughout the year is key to being healthy and avoiding sickness.

There are some mojo teachers who never seem to get sick and whilst we might think they have the constitution of an ox, their simple immunity-boosting tricks are mostly just common sense and it is these ‘secrets’ that keep them fighting fit for most of the year.

Clearly, sickness of some sort is going to happen but we can minimise it. When you do feel off-colour and you need some rest, take it, the scourge of presenteeism is a sickness in itself. Your class will survive without you even if you think they won’t…they will.

For more advice about adopting healthy habits then take a look at First Aid for Teacher Burnout by Jenny Grant Rankin.

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