Teaching is a busy profession, we can all acknowledge that. We also know that it is important for ourselves and our students to ensure we are balanced in our approach to life. Modelling gets touted (and rightfully so) as an extremely important practice in teaching, but I think modelling needs to go beyond the skills we are helping students develop. We must model humour. We must model humility. We must model genuine curiosity and the joy of creativity. We also most certainly must model a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
One of the biggest things I continue to struggle with is time. I know what I need to do to keep myself tip-top, but who has the time? I wanted to make this a priority, so I dug into some reading on biohacks that can save not just teachers, but anyone time in their busy lives while helping them optimize their health.
The following is a list of a few of the best biohacks I’ve found to prioritize both my time and my wellbeing:
1. A High Fat Diet:
For teachers, finding time to eat can often seem impossible. By adopting a more ancestral approach to my diet and sticking to a protocol that involves getting about 60% of my calories from fat, 20%-25% from protein and 15%-20% from carbs, I have less food cravings during the day and am avoiding the dreaded symptoms of being “hangry” if I’ve gone a while without eating. In fact, as I’ve worked to become “fat adapted” I have experimented with intermittent fasting, which saves time and gets my body used to running without a full belly. Is my heart going to explode from all this fat? I don’t think so. Do I have greater energy, less need to be eating all the time and a clearer head – absolutely.
Getting the proper amount of sleep has always been a key factor for maximizing human performance and one way you can ensure your batteries are charged is by napping. The truth is, when I first started trying to nap, I sucked at it. I always woke up feeling groggy and more tired then when I started. Then I heard about using binaural waves to aid the napping process. I recommend the Pzizz app to help you make the most of a 15-20 minute power nap to help you recharge after a busy day.
3. High Intensity Interval Training:
We all know that exercise is important if we want to be physically and mentally running at our best. Let’s face it, our students can have seemingly endless energy (first period high-schoolers aside) and we need to stay fit just to keep up with them. By incorporating high intensity interval training (like Tabata sets) into your fitness routine, you can maximize the time you spend at the gym. This article by trainer Ben Greenfield outlines a great way that you can get the most bang for your exercise buck by using HIIT and other time-saving fitness tips.
Planning, teaching, managing conflict, asking the right questions, making sure your students are safe, grading, giving appropriate feedback – as educators it can often feel like our minds are in a thousand places at once. I have found that the benefits of daily meditation go beyond simply giving me time to appreciate the stillness of a moment. I feel more centred, more at ease in the classroom and most importantly – more patient with my students and myself. Committing to daily meditation has been a life-changing decision for me and has greatly improved my teaching practice. I recommend the Headspace app as a great way to get started with meditation and mindfulness.
5. Cold Showers:
Another one that sounds a little bit crazy, I know. But along with a bunch of other reasons, I start each day with a cold shower to build up my tolerance to stress. It seems that cold showers have a hormetic effect on the body – basically they are a small stress that helps your body and mind prepare for bigger stressors. I have noticed since I started taking a cold shower each day, my tolerance to the stresses of teaching have become easier to take in stride.
These are a few of the biohacks I use to maximize my time. Do you have any of your own?