8 Bad Health Habits that Sabotaged my Teaching

Tired of feeling hungry, achy, and sleep-deprived during the school year?

Me too. But it wasn’t until I took a year off from teaching that I realized which HEALTH habits were undermining my ability to teach better. (There are some things that not even coffee and a growth mindset can fix!)

At school, certain foods and behaviors made me less positive, less awake, and in more pain, which wasn't fair to my students or coteachers. During my year at home, it wasn't just the reduction in stress that was making my life better - I was sleeping, snacking, moving, and behaving differently.

The following realizations could help you discover the small shifts that can make tomorrow a better day. This is not medical advice, so be sure to talk to your doctor about making certain changes in your life.

Problem #1: Diet soda
I loved Diet Coke/Pepsi (and didn't like coffee until recently), but I realized two things: not only did diet soda give me jitters and make me generally more anxious, but the salt in it was making me more hungry. That was NOT good for me, when I was already an emotional eater anyway!

I finally switched to one morning cup of coffee (or, let's be honest, equal parts coffee and milk/creamer, ha). I'm now more awake, calm, and satisfied more easily with my meals and snacks.

Problem #2: Collapsing when I got home
In the past, I would collapse on the couch the moment I got home and only get up when I had to. Doing so was partially due to exhaustion, but also because being overwhelmed made me feel like I HAD to sit and work nonstop in my off hours.

Both of these reasons are flawed. At least for me, "an object in motion stays in motion", and collapsing isn't as restorative as gentle movement (like a walk with a dog around the block). Plus, I WALKED off my baby weight by getting around the block EVERY day; I learned that doing something small (consistently) can help, even when you don't have "time" for a full workout.

Problem #3: Not stretching 
Since I didn't think I had time for the gym (or yoga, etc.), I wasn't truly stretching my tired back, legs, and feet; I also carried a lot of tension in my shoulders (from hunching over a lot while grading or typing).

Now I know that even 8 minutes of "legit" stretching can heal much of what hurts, even if I can't get an expensive massage. I've been using the free version of the Sworkit app, which has an 8-minute "Yoga for Runners" sequence that really works on my legs AND upper body.

(No, this is not an ad for Sworkit, and I get nothing for promoting them, ha.)

 Image credit

Problem #4: Snacking & binging problems
I packed snacks for the school day (mid-morning and after school), but not ENOUGH of them, and it caused me to binge, overeating at lunch (and whatever snacks were in the teacher's lounge). This year, I'm packing MORE healthy foods to get through the day.

Problem #5: Expecting sleep to fix everything...
See #2 and #3. I foolishly believed that getting sleep would be enough to make me feel better, when in reality, my whole body needed more TLC than just that.

Problem #6: ...and then resenting life when I didn't get enough sleep. 
I'm not a morning person, but I was definitely a little too whiny (even to myself) when I only averaged 5-6 hours per night.

If you CAN'T get enough sleep, it's better to accept it and decide to be a champion (or, change your life so you CAN get more) instead of just being grumpy about it and affecting everyone around you.

Problem #7: Not drinking enough water
New-mommy-life has taught me about the importance of drinking water, and I'm a fan of this cheap water bottle (by Thermos). The upper lid twists so you can track how many times you've filled it today (and learn how many ounces of water you REALLY need).

I didn't always drink enough because I knew I couldn't sneak away to the bathroom whenever I wanted. Since then, I've learned how to SIP water throughout the WHOLE day (instead of chugging it occasionally).

Problem #8: Avoiding the doctor
Maybe it's because we are avoiding sick days and sub plans, but teachers sometimes think they can superman their way through any sickness, ache, or pain, putting band-aids on the problem instead of actually fixing it.

During my year at home, I saw every doctor I could (dermatologist, physical therapy for my back, you name it), and I should have done all this YEARS ago.

What other suggestions do you have?
Tell me in the comments!

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