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When you teach, you’re focused on your students nine months of the year. Life is all about planning lessons, grading papers, holding conferences and so many more work-related responsibilities. And at the end of each school day, you go home to your family — leaving little time for your own physical and mental wellbeing.
Summer break provides an opportunity for you to slow down and focus on self-care. Here’s how.
Safeguard Your Physical Well-being
Summer is the perfect time to catch up on the routine checkups, health screenings and lab tests you put off during the busy school year, such as:
- Blood work (blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.)
- Breast exam for women
- Check for skin cancer
- Dental cleaning and checkup
- Eye examination
- Gynecological exam for women
- Prostate screening for men
- Routine physical
Do yourself a favor and take this time now, so you — your family, friends and students — can reap the benefits of a healthier you.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are important for your physical, mental and spiritual health. If you’re physically unhealthy, it influences all aspects of your life. Take the appropriate steps now while you have time to establish a healthy lifestyle, and it will be easier to continue your routine when the hectic school year resumes.
While the word “diet” likely makes you think solely of weight loss, it really refers to the types of foods you eat. Limiting certain foods can lead to weight loss, but a sustained healthy diet can do so much more — light fighting cardiovascular disease and managing chronic conditions like diabetes. And it isn’t as hard as you think. Here are some tips for a healthier, happier you:
- Ask your doctor how many calories you need each day
- Burn as many calories as you consume to maintain your current weight
- Check with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program
- Eat foods from all groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless fish and poultry, nuts and legumes
- Limit your intake of trans fat, saturated fat, salt, red meat, sweets, sugar, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and beverages
- Pay attention to portion sizes
Focusing on exercise is just as important to maintaining your health as focusing on your diet. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and working out. To help you exercise more routinely and enthusiastically, pick activities you enjoy and mix them up so you don’t become bored with the routine.
Being outdoors has the added bonus of increasing serotonin levels, (a naturally occurring chemical produced by the body), and positively influences happiness and well-being. Some outdoor activities to consider are biking, hiking, walking, running, swimming, tennis and canoeing.
Nurture Your Mental Well-Being
Caring for your mind and spirit is essential for good mental health. And summer is great time to focus on what is important to you. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few suggestions:
Actively Engage in Social Activities
God created us to be social. Whether you have lunch with friends, play a team sport or belong to a church, enjoying the company of like-minded individuals is good for your social and mental health.
Allow Time for Quiet Reflection
Whatever reflection looks like to you — praying, participating in a devotional or journaling for example — look back thoughtfully on our actions and find ways to improve.
Focus on the present moment and calmly accept your mental, emotional and physical states without self-judgment. Be kind to yourself.
Reading for pleasure is relaxing and allows you to escape to another time and place.
Getting enough sleep allows your body to repair and restore itself physically and mentally. It also decreases the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, stroke and depression.
Through slow physical postures and movements, you can stretch each muscle group. It will get your blood flowing and give you energy.
Try Deep Breathing
Concentrate on your breathing and work to control every in- and exhale. It will calm your mind, and make you more aware of your current thoughts and emotions.
Take Care of Yourself, So You Can Better Care for Others
Remember that allowing time to focus on your own health is not selfish. To best care for others, you must first care for yourself. Your friends, family and students will appreciate and enjoy having the best (and healthiest) version of you.
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