Back to school: Top tips for a healthy Term 3 - Education Matters Magazine
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Back to school: Top tips for a healthy Term 3

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As the rejuvenative effects of the holidays recede and a new term looms with the promise of heightened stress levels, it’s timely to provide some tips for maintaining the calm of the holiday period during term time. Yes it is possible but it is a daily practice which takes commitment to your own health and wellbeing – you are worth the commitment and your students benefit too!

Wellness tips for calm and clarity in the classroom this term:

Move your body everyday: It relieves tiredness and clears your head. Start with 15 minutes which is just over 1% of your day – totally doable. Yoga is great for bringing you back into your body after the mental activity of a decision-filled day. Many of us are detached from our bodies and the feelings that arise there, leading to a lack of clarity around issues that are causing an emotional response and finding us at the mercy of our environment. Being at the mercy of a class full of students can be soul destroying, hence our greater need to stay connected to our body.

Try some abdominal breathing: It can be hard to sit in meditation. An alternative is lying on your back with your hands on your belly, breathing deeply and raising the belly with each breath. Abdominal breathing activates the calming, parasympathetic wing of the nervous system and improves digestion. Our breath is also an indicator of the state of our internal world.

Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is simply described as sustained, present moment awareness. The “sustained” part is the challenge, particularly in a class full of children. Slow down and give your attention to one task at a time at least once a day and be fully present for it. Set aside time to focus on your breath for a minute each day (start with 1 minute and gradually increase). Nominate check-ins throughout the day to consciously relax your body and tune into / deepen your breath – a vital link to the present moment.

Get out into nature regularly: Being in nature has a positive effect on our wellbeing – we feel ourselves slow down, we seem to breathe easier and begin to feel more expansive as the buildings recede. Science backs our intuition, with various studies revealing time-in-nature’s positive impact on stress, depression, tension, anxiety and other negative moods.

Eat Food that Sustains You: Notice how you feel after you eat certain foods and eat those that leave you energised. Pick a meal or snack to focus on making really healthy for a week or two before moving onto another – change happens one small step at a time.

Make rest a priority: Rest is imperative but we tend to push through our tiredness to complete tasks. Start listening to your body’s signals that are telling you it’s time to turn off the computer or finish marking. Create a list of ways you can rest when you need to throughout the day.

Practise Self-Nourishing Acts: Schedule in Self-Nourishing Acts (SNAs) throughout your week that nurture your physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. SNAs are activities that help you to recalibrate, relax and renew your energy and purely experience pleasure in your life. Because of the pleasure derived from SNAs they calm the nervous system and quieten stress response hormones. Examples include massage, a walk on the beach or swimming in the ocean.

Practise Gratitude: Part of living a contented life and being satisfied with the present moment is taking time to notice the beauty that is around you every day that is often taken for granted. Once you start noticing it you can express gratitude for it daily. By aligning with beauty our sense of it only expands – where attention goes energy flows.

Switch off your brain on the weekends as well as your phone, computer and TV regularly. Listen to music, read for pleasure or practice Yoga Nidra to recalibrate and renew energy rather than drain it further.

Emma Waters is a primary school teacher of 13 years currently working in the Catholic System in the Diocese of Lismore and formerly in the Broken Bay Diocese in Sydney. She is a mother and a long time yoga practitioner (having studied for several months in India in her twenties), surfer and meditation student.  Emma is passionate about healthy living and finding life balance within the teaching profession – which is always a work in progress. She believes in the healing power of nature and the necessity of stillness every day for students and teachers alike. Emma is the creator of www.centredteacher.com and www.facebook.com/centredteacher providing resources for calm and clarity in the classroom.