It’s taken my two decades of fighting against my type A perfectionist self to realize that one of the most important things I need to do to have a good year is to take care of myself. It doesn’t matter if I have the most engaging, mind-blowing lessons if I can’t maintain the pace all semester. If I can’t sleep all night without waking up with my mind racing, if I can’t have enough energy when I come home to be a good mother to my children, then something is not right.
So as I begin yet another school year, I am committing to five things that going to be a priority so I can be healthy, happy and sane:
I don’t need to remind you of the research. We all know that we are healthier and happier when we move our bodies. I certainly am. However, after a long, demanding school day, I am really good at rationalizing why I’m better off exercising my ability to select something on Netflix than putting on my sneakers. This needs to stop. I am committing to doing something every day, whether it’s a trip to the gym or a long walk with a friend (which is a double whammy). Even if I am exhausted — which I will be during the first few weeks of school — I am going to at least spend twenty minutes doing squats and weights while I watch Netflix.
2. Eat Well
Right now, I’m on vacation and have lots of time to make some delicious and nutritious meals. Once school starts, though, it’s harder to do that. But it’s still just as necessary. To prevent myself from diving into a bag of chips after school, I’m not going to have any in the house. I’ll stock up on healthy snacks so the temptation is not there. Also, I’m going to get back into the habit of spending a few hours on Sunday afternoons, making some meals that I can use all week: a casserole or a big pot of spaghetti sauce that will last for more than one meal, and pre-chopped veggies that can be used for a salad or a stir-fry. It takes some time, yes, but it will ensure that my family and I are getting the good fuel we need for the week.
3. Get Some Silent Time
I desperately need some time when my brain isn’t running a mile a minute, as it is prone to do. If I don’t find ways to slow it down, I can run around like an Energizer Bunny until, inevitably, I crash, overwhelmed and unable to do anything well. Electronics have added to this problem, as there’s always something for me to check or look up. I’m committing to carving out more quiet time. I’m going to give myself at least twenty minute a day when I leave my phone upstairs and grab a book or do some meditating — anything that will distract my mile-a-minute mind from highjacking the time I need to unwind.
4. Avoid the Drama
I don’t know about your school, but at mine there’s always some sort of drama. One staff member is ticked about something and another is incensed about something else. The staff room can become a cesspool of complaint that goes way beyond healthy venting, and I can get sucked deeply into it. I know that the best way to stay healthy is to just avoid certain people and certain situations. I’d also like to cultivate the art of diverting the conversation so I don’t have to avoid. Until I do, however, for my own health, I will be seeking out the positive people who make me feel better when I leave the conversation, instead of worse.
5. Remember That It’s Just. A. Job.
I know it’s a calling and a passion; I get that. However, it is a job that can suck the life out of you and your relationships if you can’t separate it from the rest of your life. Yes, we need to do homework in the evening and on weekends, but we need to make time for ourselves, our families and friends a priority in the after work hours. I don’t have an answer for how to shut it off, but I do know that it has to happen. So, this year, I plan to work on strategies for walking away, for sometimes accepting less than my best. That might sound like a bad thing, but I don’t think it is. I can go into overdrive and put way more time and energy into a lesson than is really necessary. Instead, I need to know when enough is enough. For example, maybe it is ok to use last year’s untweaked lesson and go to a movie with a friend instead of reworking it.
That’s my plan and I hope I can stick to it. There will be times that I do go for the junk food or get sucked into some hallway drama, but as long as I stay committed to trying, I should have a happy and healthy year. I hope you do too!
* One way you can get a break is to let other people help you. I’ve got lots of classroom tested lessons and activities that you can check out, including this FREE back to school activity. Grab it by clicking here.
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