Teacher stress is on the rise. The profession has long been known to be a stressful one, but with changes in school policies around issues such as budget cuts, bullying, and political discourse, teacher stress is at an all time high.
According to a USA Today study 58% of teachers said their mental health was “not good.” That’s a drastic increase from the 34% of teachers who said this only two short years ago. Stressed people can benefit greatly from exercise, and REALLY stressed people (like teachers) REALLY need it.
Exercise is a fantastic tool for stress management. The benefits of exercise are numerous, including increased endorphins (the feel-good neurotransmitters), mental distraction (as it requires discipline and focus), improvement of one’s overall mood, and weight control.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. Though that sounds like a lot that is really only 30 minutes per day, five days per week. It’s doable if you are committed to it. Best not to make the perfect the enemy of the good, though: if you can’t get 30 minutes, 15 are better than none. If you are one of the many stressed out teachers, consider some of these easy and convenient exercises as a way to break through. You owe it to yourself.
3 Ways to Make Exercise Part of Your Routine
Schedule it into your life. Treat it like a doctor’s appointment or parent teacher conference and put it on the calendar.
Mix it up, and keep it interesting. Don’t do the same workout routine every single time. Mix it up and keep it fun.
Start slow, and don’t overwhelm yourself with expectations. You don’t want to overdo it, or burn yourself out. Begin slowly, and consistently.
7 Exercises You Can Easily Do at Home
If you want to get your blood flowing and heart pumping before you begin your workout, doing things such as burpees and jumping jacks are a great way to do that. Warming your body up and stretching before you really get into a good workout are important so that you don’t hurt yourself. These workouts are an easy way to get in a great workout when you can’t leave the house.
If you’ve never tried one, you may be surprised at the workout you get by doing 2 moves; a pushup and jumping. To begin, you start in a standing position, squat down, put your hands on the floor in front of you. Next you will quickly kick your feet back behind you as you are now in a push-up position. Do one push-up, then jump your feet forward into a squat and jump up. Repeat. Try to do as many of these as you can. It will build muscle, get your heart pumping, and increase your strength and muscle tone.
Lying face down on the floor, raise both your hands and feet off the floor, with your hands stretching up above your head, like Superman. Squeeze your abs and lower back and remember to breath. This works your abdominals, and your back muscles.
This is a great way to build muscle and work your lower half. Before beginning dumbbell squats be sure you are comfortable doing squats. People with knee problems may not want to try this. Holding dumbbells at your sides, do squat sets. The extra weight makes the squats that much harder and effective.
These are different than traditional push-ups in that you are using an inclined surface (bench, countertop, table, etc.). This can be a great way to work your upper body, arms and shoulders, without too much stress on them like a typical push-up. Keep in mind that the higher the surface is, the easier they are. To begin, you may want to use your kitchen counter, and eventually work your way down to regular floor push-ups.
The squat jump is a full body exercise. It requires no equipment and can easily be done at home, or even in the teachers’ lounge if you so desire. It’s best to do these in short durations. If you are too tired when you try to do these, you may injure yourself. Move into a squat position, and then once down low, push hard and explode upwards jumping off the floor. Repeat this for 3-5 minutes.
Using free weights, and standing in a half squat, you will punch forward and backwards at the same time. Doing 10-12 sets at a time this is a great arm and core workout, and requires very little time commitment.
Planking is a fabulous way to work not only your abdominals, but your arms, back, and glutes as well. Many people do planking challenges, building up the amount of time they plank every few days. Getting into a push-up position, bend your elbows and rest your upper body on them. Pushing off with your toes you will tighten your abs and hold this position as long as you can (usually the goal at first is one minute).
Reducing stress, and increasing exercise can really improve your overall health and wellbeing. The demands of the job can be overwhelming, but bringing your work stress home with you will only increase your stress and anxiety, not make it better. Learn to set limits on how much your work encroaches on important self-care priorities, and to schedule time into your busy routine to take care of yourself. It will be worth it in the long run, and you will be much healthier for doing so.