Christmas Break is often a total relief for exhausted teachers. The trouble is, valuable time can be wasted as you decompress from the hectic pace that leads up to Christmas. As an occupational therapist who works extensively with schools, I see how hard teachers work to make a difference in the lives of their students. Read on to see how to refresh this Christmas Break.
I see you, teachers, struggling to get report cards out on time. I watch you take on greater and greater responsibilities that keep the students, parents, staff, and campus organized and happy. I watch you continue to pursue perfection in ensuring that you pass on smart students to your friends at work who will be teaching them next year.
We in the community who forget (or don’t have the opportunity) to say thanks would now like to thank you very much. Over the course of each school year, you assist students to better learn how to learn. You teach them to problem-solve in their own unique style of learning. Most importantly, you stimulate an interest in curiosity and an interest in learning. A job well done!
Now it is your turn to rest and restore.
During the first couple of days of your Christmas Break, you would do well to change up your routine to offer yourself a well needed brain-refresh break from the Monday to Friday steady state that has been a part of your life for the past few months.
Keep exercise at the top of your list. Make this a priority, a “to do”. Yoga stretches in the morning, or a mid-morning walk, an afternoon bicycle ride, or early evening in the gym need to make it into your daily program.
The fastest way to shift your mind and body into “refresh mode” is through a mini health regimen incorporating daily exercise and healthy foods. That isn’t easy during the holidays. Keeping sugar intake to a minimum will help you avoid getting sick. Getting exercise when your to-do list is full for your own family is difficult, but worth it in terms of energy and stress reduction.
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You are due for a well-deserved break that can serve to relax and rejuvenate your body and mind. Check out these specific activities that will help get you make the most of your Christmas Break. (Just so you know, you can use these on weekends too!)
We encourage brain-refresh breaks for restless children, but brain-refresh breaks can also promote mental cohesion, calmness and clear thinking in adults. Try these activities that have been shown to improve test performance in school-age children. These same activities are used in the field of sports medicine to promote mind and body focus in high school athletes.
In fact, brain-refresh breaks really come from the field of sports medicine. In professional athletics, years of research have been dedicated to the best way to focus the mind and body for high-level sports competition. Stimulating right brain/left brain activities prepares the whole body for learning as well as focusing attention.
Implement Right/Left Brain Activities
Many sports incorporate coordination of the right and the left side of the body and the right and left sides of the brain. Large muscle actions that cross the midline from one side of the body to the other, such as swinging a tennis racket, is an excellent example of whole body learning. Martial arts, swimming, yoga and many gym workout regimes serve as excellent brain-refresh activities and also improve strength and balance.
Improve Precision of Movement
Exercise equipment can help target specific muscles that stabilize to allow precision in the movement of our limbs. Sitting on a dynamic surface, such as an exercise ball, awakens the core muscles to stabilize so that more refined movements of the arms and legs can occur.
Using soft, ball-shaped weights to exercise the arms can further promote well-coordinated movement. When the body works well, the mind stays nimble.
Involve Your Senses
When we’re frantic and stressed, the body has difficulty operating coherently and the mind has trouble operating calmly. A brain-refresh break can employ any of our senses.
For example, have you ever eaten way too much chocolate when you’re stressed (sense of taste)? Neither have I.
How about turning up the music to distract our thoughts and lift our emotions (our auditory system). Maybe soaking in a warm-bath (the tactile system)? Aromatherapy candles calm us down through our sense of smell. Watching the birds putter in the trees is a pleasing and relaxing visual experience.
Tasting, listening, touching and feeling, smelling and looking; all our senses can be used to calm ourselves down.
Try different sensory strategies yourself. Some can be more effective in certain situations than others. Some are more convenient, others more “fussy”. Plan a whole spa day and notice the plethora of sensory experiences made available to help relax you.
Whatever you choose, make healthy choices and stay fit.
Though we often forget to say thank-you, we can’t manage without you!