How to Maintain Wellness as an Educator

Dr. Ellen Mauer
Dr. Ellen Mauer
Elementary school principal; Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
‘Wellness’ spelled on wooden blocks surrounded by stones and a plant.

Why is it Important to Maintain Wellness?

It is crucial to maintain wellness throughout a lifetime. For educators, stresses of everyday life are compounded by worries of how they’re serving students and families. Wellness affects emotions and a sense of well-being. Regular wellness routines help to reduce both stress and the risk of physical and mental illness. It helps the positive interaction we have with others and boosts self-confidence and self-esteem over time.

Ways to Maintain Wellness

Work/Life Balance

Having good work and home balance is very important. It is unhealthy to maintain a work schedule that leaves no time for family and oneself. Downtime is just as important as reaching work goals. Feeling safe and settled in home life makes one feel more secure while at work. Use a calendar to set specific times for work and times for doing things with family, at home, and for oneself. Find specific times to turn off electronics for a sense of well-being. Having an obsessive connection to social media or an electronic device is unhealthy. Model for children and students that there are times to put the devices away.

Time Management

Managing time is vital. While at school, use a schedule to make sure that tasks are completed in a given time period. Do not take things home unless absolutely necessary and if you have scheduled work time at home. Prioritize school projects every day, setting on top the items that must be done that day. Another area is for items that are done weekly, and the last area for long-term projects. Review calendars and schedules weekly so that you are finding time for all items.

Repeat the process for home items. Review your calendar for after-school and weekend times. Look ahead a month and schedule appointments, shopping, school work if needed, exercise, TV time, free time, and anything that is important to one’s well-being. Prioritize at home, too. Social outings with friends are healthy activities to schedule.

Regular Exercise and Physical Activity

Crucial to one’s well-being is regular physical activity. Schedule regular walks outdoors or time at the gym. Taking a fitness class or trying a new sport is invigorating. As one ages, it is even more important to include this in a daily routine. Regular activity boosts energy levels, helps manage stress, sleep levels, improves self-image, and promotes positive outlooks. It keeps weight under control, lowers blood pressure, helps good cholesterol, and improves circulation. Once this is incorporated into everyday life, it becomes difficult to imagine missing it.

Good Nutrition and Hydration

Eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated is key to maintaining wellness. A well-balanced diet will help the body to absorb nutrients, medication, and fight off diseases. Keep in mind that completely skipping certain food groups is not healthy in the long term. Everything is fine in moderation. Skipping meals is not a good idea either. It causes one to become overly hungry and overeat at the next meal. A good rule is to eat three meals and three small snacks daily.

Stay hydrated by drinking 64 ounces of water daily. Do not substitute caffeinated products for water. Don’t wait until being thirsty to drink. Dehydration can cause fatigue and interfere with mood or concentration. It is helpful to get a water bottle that holds 32 ounces and fill at lunch time. Drinking consistently throughout the day helps to eat less food or have sugar cravings. Watch alcohol intake as alcohol has a dehydrating effect.

Social Support

Maintaining wellness through social support is helpful. A spouse, friend, or loved one can provide emotional support through conversation. A trusted colleague at school can provide support as a mentor, giving advice and suggestions to lessen stress and build confidence. Seeing a counselor/therapist is a good way to get regular support during rough times. This may be for just a period of time in one’s life or may be a long-lasting source of support.

The way one views the world is important. One must look at the whole situation and then make a conclusion. Being well grounded in reality and making conscious choices is crucial to long-term health.

Some people find meditation to be helpful. Daily mediation can be done in short periods of time and helps to get calmly through the day and manage stress symptoms. Meditation can give a sense of calm, peace, and balance that can benefit emotional well-being and overall health. There are many online sites that can help an educator to begin the process of learning to meditate.

Set Goals and Work Toward Achievement

Setting goals and seeing oneself making steps toward achieving them helps to improve one’s state of mind. Start small and set just a few goals to begin. Be sure the goal is written in a way that is measurable. List steps that need to be taken to achieve the goal. The physical act of writing one’s goals makes it more likely that there will be success in achieving them.

Reviewing them regularly is also important. For example, a goal of “getting more exercise” sounds fine, but it is not measurable and there is not a good way to determine if it has been met. It would be better to write something more specific such as “walk on the treadmill for at least 20 minutes four times per week.” That is more specific.

Then, the steps could be to write the dates and times for the week in a planner. Set an alarm each morning for the time of day to do the exercise. Make a mark on a calendar to show that it was completed that day. The next week, increase the amount of time or days. Any goal can be made into a measurable one with specific steps to follow.

It can also be helpful to have a buddy for each goal. The exercise goal is one that can be done together, and if there is a buddy involved, it is harder to let it go because an appointment has been made with another person. For goals that don’t lend themselves to buddies, the two people can each write their own goals, share, and check in daily or weekly just to report progress. That sense of being accountable is helpful in actually completing the activities needed to get to the goal.

*Updated March 2021
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