Teachers: Thrive, not Survive!

I once won an award for being the most sick teacher on staff. I eventually got so sick that I went on sick leave. During that time I decided to do everything I could to get healthy. I decided to become a Heilkunstler, not because Heilkunst is a well-known system of medicine (Hardly!), but because it is natural, comprehensive, and effective.  Graduation as a Heilkunstler required that I become healthy.  I admit it took me a couple of extra years to graduate, but I did. Then I went back into teaching. This time, I won awards for attendance, was promoted to administration, and was noted for how I ran circles around my colleagues. Clearly, a lot had changed.

Knowing what I know now, what knowledge would have helped me before and could possible help you now? four points come to mind:

  1. Refined sugar and caffeine have two effects: They bring you up and then they bring you down, in their own way of course. Long story short: They create a negative cycle, sapping your energy and depleting your immune system. Alcohol, by the way, has the same effect. Use if moderation before a day of rest, if at all.
  2. Eating takes up huge amounts of energy. In a nutshell: Eating breakfast can make you want to eat more all day. Eating lunch can make you tired while you teach tired kids. Eating dinner can make you digest rather than sleep.
  3. Supplements generally don’t help. Most of them are synthetic and not easily absorbed, some of them interact negatively with each other, and they cost a fortune.
  4. Sleep really is important. That’s when your immune system goes to work. It’s also when the accumulated emotional stress of the day is vaporized. Without adequate sleep, among other things, our appetite and sense of time are altered. We feel rushed. We e have cravings. Sound familiar?

Knowing these four things when I was a teacher and struggling would have spared me much grief. So what did I do with this knowledge?

  1. I replaced refined sugars with unrefined ones. I then moved on to organic, fresh, local, etc. But baby steps were in order for me. One recipe that works to provide a quick high sugar, fat, and protein boost: 1 cup (or less, if desired) of pitted dates (Or other dried fruit perhaps, I’ve not tried others. Dates are super high in sugar, like I like, but this is not recommended diabetics!), 1 cup almond flour, 1 and a quarter cup of coconut (fat and protein), half a cup of hemp seeds (more fat and protein), 2 tbsp of lemon juice (fresh, please!), 2 tsp of lemon rind, 1 tbsp of vanilla. grind them all up. Roll’m up into bite-sized balls. Refrigerate them in snack-sized quantities (such as three??). Grab’m ‘n get to school on time! You can make several different types of snacks like this and have them ready to go when you need them.
  2. I had veggie snacks available for when I wanted to munch but was not really hungry. For me, this was in the afternoon. Baked sea weed was (and still is!) my favorite. Douse with olive oil, add some salt and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for about 2 minutes. Remove it when it starts to curl up. Wait a minute longer and it will be burned. Pull it out too soon and it won’t be crispy. Yummy! (And I never would have believed this before becoming a health nut, but it is really good.)
  3. I skipped breakfast without feeling guilty about it. Why? Because my constitution doesn’t really need it (and most don’t, but ask your health practitioner if you have any worries about it) and it turns out I was able to focus on the better things I had to do in the morning. Like get to school, be ready for the students, and perform. Digestion gets in the way of that, unless you’re really ready to and need to eat.
  4. I drank Living Fuel Greens and Ultimate Super Berry supplement. Disclaimer: I sell it. But you can get it from the website for the same price. More important here is that you get it. At least try it. It is the most balanced, wide-spectrum, high-quality, whole-food supplement that I know of on the market. I’ve been taking it for over 10 years now. I’m always checking out the competition, thanks to my patients who never fail to bring me the newest ‘kid’ (supplement) on the block to try out. Living Fuel has never once failed to live up to it’s name: Living Fuel. I’ve really needed it on several occasions. One such time was when I first went back into teaching, a bit nervous after having gone on leave. I was pregnant, nursing, and teaching part-time at two institutions. It was winter and I had to shovel myself out of the driveway at 5:30AM, toddler in the heated car waiting for me. I upped my Living Fuel intake I not only managed but did so far better than I’d ever managed before. I didn’t have time to eat the amount of food that I needed to get through that stage, nor did I have access to the quality required either.
  5. I had a decent lunch prepared  with veggies, protein, and fat, eaten in that order. (More on that another time.) You’ll know if it’s the right type of lunch for you if you’re able to digest it without getting tired or gassy, or cranky, none of which is conducive to teaching. Experiment, or contact me for help on that one.
  6. I skipped dinner. A teacher wrote me this week saying that she was starting feel sick. And it’s only the first week of school! She’d been diligent and working hard. To give herself a break when out for a late steak dinner. The next day she was sluggish and the day after had a sore throat. Of course: Instead of sleeping, she was digesting. It may have felt like sleeping, but it wasn’t. So when she woke up, she was ready to go back to bed to do what her body hadn’t been able to do while in bed (recover from the previous day!). So whatever you eat, make sure you’ve fully digested by time you go to bed. If you end up skipping breakfast and dinner regularly, you’re body’s metabolism will accelerate and shift into one that is energized by keytones. It’s called Intermittent Fasting. Check it out. It may not be for you (diabetics, others). And it may be. Consult with your chosen practitioner and find whatever works for you. Here I’m sharing what worked for me for my constitution. (In clinic I share what works for you, because I’d know you. But here I don’t. So I’m sharing about me.  This may be an very important difference!)
  7. I made sleep a priority. I found my classes would go better if I was well-rested but less prepared than more prepared and exhausted, bordering on nauseous and sick. I had learned how sleep before midnight is valuable and is not the same as sleep after midnight. Sleeping from 9AM till 5AM generally gets us farther than sleeping 11PM till 7AM. Also, sleeping in darkness, without flashing lights affects the amounts and what hormones are flowing through our bodies. So I finally caved to nature and started to sleep, in the dark and well before midnight. Ultimately, I was better rested and my performance improved. Go figure!

Of course, there is so much more that goes into making sure that you thrive when you teach. These are just a couple of tips, but they are worth their weight in gold. May they serve you well!