Sometimes it seems like the biggest challenge of the school year. As soon as school starts, the runny noses and general yuck starts in. And teachers are fighting an uphill battle from the start.
So how do teachers stay healthy, especially when they are surrounded in germs and sickness most of the school year? While it is impossible to keep yourself away from the germs, the quick answer is to build up your immunity so that the germs have no hold on you. And there are several different ways to do that. I made a list to get you started:
- Step away from the hand sanitizer.
- Get your daily dose of sunshine.
- Take your vitamins.
- Drink your water.
- Stay upbeat.
- Make use of essential oils known to promote wellbeing.
None of these steps can guarantee you will avoid succumbing to whatever virus comes your way. But they will go far in helping you to avoid a good amount of them when these measures are followed over time.
Let’s take a look at them now.
Table of Contents
1. Step Away From the Hand Sanitizer
I know that this one touches a nerve with some people who swear by it. And both sides of the issue claim some valid points.
But for many years now, a couple of glaring issues with hand sanitizer have emerged. First, some of the ingredients have been questionable at best and harmful at worst. Second, studies indicated that using hand sanitizer over time can actually harm immunity instead of helping it.
First, let’s talk about the argument regarding harmful ingredients found in hand sanitizers. According to this article on CNN.com, dozens of ingredients commonly found in hand sanitizers were banned from being included going forward. Most notably, triclosan and benzethonium chloride were touted as harmful.
The jury is still out on ethyl alcohol, which is the main ingredient in the majority of hand sanitizers currently being made. Research is still being conducted, both for the safety of it and the percentage of it being used in hand sanitizers.
As for the immunity issue, the argument is that hand sanitizer cannot distinguish between good bacteria and bad bacteria. So when a person uses hand sanitizer and then immediately touches something with harmful bacteria on it, they no longer have good bacteria to fight those germs that are now infiltrating their body. Scientists continue to conduct research in an attempt to measure exactly how this issue is affecting those using hand sanitizers.
A Good Solution for Now
All authorities agree that hand sanitizer was not meant to replace hand washing. It makes a good substitute when hand washing is not available. And using it sparingly and infrequently is always recommended as best.
Research is expected to be completed soon. Here’s hoping that it gives us some definitive options going forward!
And an added bonus is that you will feel better overall, even if you do end up catching something on occasion.
2. Get Your Daily Dose of Sunshine
Luckily, no argument exists in relation to this tip! This may be the easiest and best way that teachers stay healthy. 100% of doctors and health related authorities recommend a good dose of daily sunshine. Twenty minutes is considered optimal. Of course, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. If you are going to be out for a long period of time, protect yourself from the sun adequately.
Sunshine makes one of the best ways to stay healthy because it is a direct dose of vitamin D. Daily sunshine gives the following benefits:
- Stronger bone health
- More energy
- Feel better emotionally (fights depression)
- Enhances your immune system
- Clears your mind
- Helps you sleep better
I know that for me, walking daily elevates my mood and my energy instantly. I rarely get sick, so it is hard to tell if it is because of my sun and other habits or good genetics. But I know that it can’t be hurting me!
I also realize that not everybody can walk, especially not every day. If work or other aspects of your life hinder your ability to get out and enjoy the sun regularly, you can find a good source of Vitamin D and take that regularly. It provides a good backup. And that point provides a good transition to my next tip:
3. Take Your Vitamins
This point is one more super easy way that teachers stay healthy. It is not hard to do, and generally not super expensive. You do want to do your research on which brands contain fillers and other harmful ingredients. You also want to read up on which types of vitamins react best with your body. There are gummies, pills, chewables, powders, sprays, and many other forms of vitamins. Some forms react faster than others. And some last longer than others.
And as if that isn’t confusing enough, some react with other vitamins in different ways. Because I am not a doctor and cannot give you medical advice, all I can say is read up on which vitamins are best for you and how best to take them.
4. Drink Your Water!
Okay, I admit. We all know this one. But I am notoriously bad at not doing it, even though I know better. I have read about those 30 day challenges that other people do and at the end of the 30 days they look so much healthier. I have often wondered how much better I would look and feel. But yet, I still do not drink my water.
I have had an aversion to the taste of water for my whole life. In fact, when I was 14 years old, my mother tried to make me drink water and I refused. So she refused to let me have anything else to drink for 3 days. Only food. And it was summer vacation, so I couldn’t escape this at school. Finally, she gave up after 3 days and I went back to drinking my favorite juice and milk.
I don’t drink juice and milk very much anymore. But I also don’t drink water.
In the times that I did, I was very intentional about it. I used various ingredients to make my water taste better. Cucumbers, lemons, limes, oranges, cilantro, were some favorites, especially in the summertime.
I had a special Pinterest pin (see it here) that gave me tons of great drinking water recipes. And for quite a while it worked. But it was work. I had to prepare and shop ahead. It wasn’t that hard. But I did stop doing it. I basically stopped planning and that caused the downfall of my healthy water run.
So let’s get back to doing that together! I know it would be better for me if I did.
5. Stay Upbeat
There is a verse in the Bible that says, “A merry heart does good like medicine.” I know that not everybody agrees with the Bible or believes in that or religion. But this verse is actually scientifically proven!
Staying positive is known to help make people feel better generally. But it is also known to have helped people to heal better. One of the things that we know about this is that when oxytocin is produced in your body, it helps your body to heal and feel better. And it makes you feel emotionally better too.
There is a whole lot more to it, but that is a good start for those of us that are not doctors.
There are lots of good ways to stay positive. I made a list for that too!
Ways to Stay Positive:
- Listen to music.
- Write down positive thoughts in a journal (even if you’re having a crappy day).
- Go on a walk.
- Call or text a friend.
- Read a book.
- Watch a movie (a happy one!).
- Go get a little bit of your favorite food (not to be interpreted as binge eating or comfort eating).
- Consciously change your negative thoughts to positive ones
I bet you all can add about 50 more to this list. There is so much you can do, but if you are feeling down or discouraged, it won’t come naturally. You will have to be intentional about it.
If you start doing these things, you find that over time it does become more natural. And you will find an overall wellbeing take over in time. And that will help teachers (and everybody else) stay healthy in ways that you never realized!
6. Make Use of Essential Oils
Essential oils are not scientifically proven. But for those of us that have used them, we know that they do well for us. The sense of smell is powerful. We can connect vivid memories to particular smells.
And there are just some smells that make us feel good. There are smells that are known to give us energy.
So just at the basic smell level, essential oils that are diffused in your living space will make you feel good. And we know that feeling good contributes to a healthier immune system.
I could write a book on essential oils. Or I could just read one of the hundreds of great books out there already. I don’t have enough room in this article to do it justice.
But I will say that if you haven’t gotten an inexpensive diffuser and experienced being surrounded by your favorite scents, you need to give it a try! You certainly won’t lose anything by doing it and will enjoy your space even more!
Here is the set of diffusers I use in my classroom (you can also buy tons or more beautiful ones but I absolutely love the functionality of this set):
As for the essential oils to put in them, I would strongly recommend using only organic essential oils. Non-organic ones contain chemicals that actually harm the air quality around you.
You can get organic essential oils online easily or you can get them at any of your local health stores.
Obviously, these tips are not exclusive to teachers. Everybody can follow these steps and feel better. But teachers and other people whose jobs expose them to higher than normal harmful bacteria can benefit greatly from following these steps. And they may find that the results make a big difference in the quality of classroom time. They can be better teachers because they feel better. They aren’t fighting the barrage of illnesses coming their way. And who wouldn’t want those benefits?
For some other inspirational ideas on equipping your classroom, check out these articles: