Mastering Mindfulness: Fill Your Cup First

Three Tips to a Happier, Healthier You!

Feeling teacher burnout, especially in the midst of a pandemic? Time to fill up your own cup too- not just your coffee cup! You can’t pour from an empty cup, after all. Give yourself permission to show yourself gratitude, compassion, and self-respect. Taking care of you will help you be your best self in the classroom. Check out these tips for a happier, healthier you.

Did you know that 46% of teachers report high daily stress levels throughout the school year?

According to Gallup’s (2014) State of America’s Schools Report, teacher stress was ranked highest in a 2014 occupational study and matches the stress levels of nurses (46%) and physicians (45%). 

Feeling this burnt out? We’ve got your back. According to a research study on mindfulness training interventions to reduce workplace burnout, practicing mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress and job burnout- especially for professionals in high-stress occupations such as teachers and healthcare workers (Luken & Sammons, 2016). 
Stressful situations put our body into a fight-or-flight response, which over time can increase blood pressure and contribute to decreased cardiovascular health, obesity, and/or anxiety or depression. How can we become present, aware, and not overwhelmed in stressful situations? The short answer is- practice! By practicing mindfulness techniques we can protect ourselves from daily stressors that decrease our mental and physical health. Try out these three strategies to put the practice of mindfulness into your day in just a matter of minutes. Just by even setting the intention for yourself to relieve stress, you will already be on your way to becoming happier, healthier, and less burned out. You are worth it!

Three Tips to a Happier, Healthier You!

1) Breathwork: Retrain Your Nervous system to recognize stress and cope with stressful situations through deep breathing techniques:

  • The science behind breathwork: Breathwork decreases stress, stabilizes blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression, improves energy, and relaxes tense muscles! Practice 2 minutes/day to have a go-to coping strategy anytime you feel overwhelmed! 
  • How-To (Equal Breathing): Find a quiet spot. Take a seat. Allow your spine to grow long. Close your eyes. Relax your shoulders. Notice your natural breath. Inhale slowly through your nose for a whole count to 4. Exhale slowly through your nose for a whole count to 4. Repeat 4-6 times. 

2) Mindful Morning Routine: Follow these steps to wake up and start each day fresh with a happy mindset, purpose, and healthy habits:

  • Earlybird Energizing: Start your day with success by waking up 20-30 minutes early! Immediately hydrate and move once you get up to prevent your thumb from pushing the snooze button or your mind from stressing over the day’s to-do lists! After 8 hours of sleep without water or movement, your body will thank you for the fuel and endorphins! 
  • Eat, then “Eat the Frog”: Sit down, enjoy your food, and write down every goal you want to accomplish today. Circle the top 2 goals you agree to complete! Then, attack your day by completing a priority you’ve circled but don’t enjoy. You’ll feel amazing with a task complete! 
  • Morning Motivation: Start your day with a fresh mindset. While getting ready, make a mental gratitude list, leave positive post-its on your mirror, listen to a motivational podcast, or let yourself “be” with your favorite warm drink, book, meditation, or playlist. 
  • Schedule Your Work Day: Plan your workday before you get to work for a productive day. Commit to a cut-off time! There are only so many hours in a day and in your life- know it’s okay to set boundaries to be your best self!

3) Plan Ahead for Your Health: Bring your meal-prepped lunch, workout clothes, and water bottle to your zen-den classroom or workspace!

  • Meal-Prep: Save time, money, and stress as well as make sure you’re eating nutritiously with meal prep! Plan one night per week, prep 2-4 meals you’ll eat throughout the week, and enjoy stress-free meal-time!
  • Workout Clothes: Pack your workout clothes the night before! Whether you like to work out before or after work, having them packed and in your car will give you zero excuses to not commit to daily exercise!  
  • Water Bottle: Pack and keep a water bottle handy at work! Hydration is key for brain function, flushing toxins, immunity, brighter skin, and physical performance. 
  • Zen-Den Workspace: You spend ⅓ of your day at work, so it might as well feel like your personal oasis or home-away-from-home. Bring in your favorite scents, colors that make you feel peaceful and happy, quotes or pictures that cheer you up, soft rugs or pillows, greenery, and as much natural sunlight as you can!

***
Alyssa LeBlanc (M.S, RYT200, AFAA, Matrix, Schwinn, & Keiser) is the Health Brand Manager at Quaver Health. She brings eight years of experience as an elementary teacher and twelve years of experience in health and fitness instruction and curriculum development. As a certified yoga and fitness instructor with degrees in both Public Health Education as well as Elementary Education, she is passionate about all dimensions of health and wellness, especially when related to the field of education.

References:

Barak, Y. (2006) The immune system and happiness. Autoimmunity Reviews, 5(8), 523-527. 

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2006.02.010.

Flook, L., Goldberg, S.B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K. and Davidson, R.J. (2013). Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout, and Teaching Efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7: 182-195. https://doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12026

Gallup (2014). State of American Schools. 

Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., Batts Allen, A., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: The implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(5), 887–904. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.92.5.887

Luken, M. and Sammons, A. (2016). Systematic Review of Mindfulness Practice for Reducing Job Burnout. Am J Occup Ther, 70(2):7002250020. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.016956Savage, B. M., Lujan, H. L., Thipparthi, R. R., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2017). Humor, laughter, learning, and health! A brief review. Advances in physiology education, 41(3), 341–347. https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00030.2017