Teachers are some of the best of us. Often they are selfless, hard-working and under appreciated. Working with kids these days (and an increasing amount of parents) is no small feat, and teachers often find themselves taking on stress and being unable to take care of their minds and bodies throughout the school year. Thankfully, a major upside of teaching is the summer break – and we can utilize that time to reduce stress, increase our health and change some unhealthy habits we might have gained all while having some fun!
At Friendship we believe everything starts with being in the right mental state. This will first mean de-stressing yourself. I would recommend implementing the following 3-4 things to really help you set the tone for your summer habits, and begin to work on having a clearer mind state:
- Wake up and take a walk first thing in the morning. Studies show that getting some sunlight first thing in the morning helps us maintain a good circadian rhythm and will increase sleep habits and reduce stress.
- If it is raining out (or do it anyway) read a book that has nothing to do with your teaching subject. Fiction can be great for this, and will help tap back into your creative side and get your mind going first thing in the morning. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself more motivated and inspired throughout the day when you start with these morning fixes.
- Find some time for meditation. I prefer twice a day, I like to do 20-minutes in the mid-afternoon with an aim to quiet my mind from all the noise of emails, texts and stuff that has come up in the day. I then do 10-minutes right before bed to help me organize and clear my thoughts before I lay my head down, working to get to a place of gratitude for what the day brought me. If you struggle with this check out the “Headspace” app which has been very successful in helping people in our community start on their meditation journey.
- Exercise gratitude every day. Often times teachers can let years go by where they don’t sit and take dedicated time to reach out to students who might have moved on from their lives. As time passes you might think about that student more and more, and how positively they effected your life. Sometimes, I don’t think teachers really appreciate how meaningful their impact can be…and believe me when I tell you that a hand-written letter from a teacher expressing how being a caring, attentive and respectful student positively impacted and motivated them can be life-changing! You never know when that student might have moved on to a difficult situation, or is struggling socially in college, etc. Write the letter, make a phone call and spend some time being grateful for the impact you are having. (Read on the health benefits of Gratitude)
Once you have calmed your mind, and gotten on a path to personal development it is time to start moving forward with your physical health. Unfortunately, caring and giving people will always put others happiness and enjoyment above their own — which often means teachers, nurses, doctors, etc. let their physical health take a back seat. The summer is a great time to get involved with changing your habits and setting yourself on a consistent, long-term and sustainable (throughout the school year) path. Here are some recommendations:
- Plan active vacations. Teachers almost always plan a vacation or two over the summer. Make sure that you are planning some hiking, biking, white-water rafting, or long-walks into your trips.
- Walk every day. If you have dogs, I definitely recommend starting and ending your day with a good walk. Listen to a podcast for 15-20 minutes and walk briskly. Studies show that this increase in activity can have the largest net benefit on your physical health. The addition of a motivating and interesting podcast to this endeavor gives you an amazing bang-for-your-buck 20-minutes (and it’s free, so no excuses!). (If you don’t have a dog…check out our friends at and adopt – save two lives!) If you have kids, have them join you on this, as it is a great habit to start young!
- Join a Community! Obviously we are bias to CrossFit, but this is a main reason why; CrossFit communities are full of giving and caring people. It is why we have so many teachers already and why they are so successful at CrossFit. Most facilities that practice CrossFit methodologies also have a nutrition team and an in-depth fundamentals program that will teach you everything you need to know. That means by the end of summer you can know how to squat, do a pull-up and eat right and have a great path set on your journey to fitness before the school year begins.
- Get involved! Charities are a great way to meet people and get involved in things outside of school. Often times, this ends up being something moderately active. Working with Veterans, kids-in-need, dogs, etc. are all things that require you to be up and active throughout the day. If you have kids get them involved with you and this brings us to our last point…
Remove the screens. Over the past decade I have noticed that many of the teachers fall into a summer slump of binging on Netflix, spending too much time on social media and playing on phones. Most of the time this just comes from lack of structure or a plan – something we all need. While this might seem like you’re “blowing off some steam” from the school year, this has nothing but negative health implications. It will lead to burn-out, chronic disease and unhappiness and needs to be avoided. Begin thinking about your summer plans, and talk with your family about the changes you want to make. Our coaches love having teachers, and this summer we will be offering a teacher discount for those who want to take these steps and put them into action.
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Author Jeff Binek is the Owner at Friendship CrossFit in Dublin. Friendship is a complete health and wellness facility, with a team of coaches implementing nutrition, exercise, physical therapy and recovery techniques to help people maximize their lifestyle and performance.