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“Often times the last person teachers think about is themselves.” This was said to me recently by a longtime educator with whom I was discussing teacher holistic health.  It’s critical to feel physically, mentally and spiritually (I mean this non-denominationally) solid.  But sometimes in all occupations, it is difficult to feel that way, even in important situations.  So it’s easy to tell ourselves to do something about it.  But often it takes quality energy to pull yourself up from the doldrums.

I remember my first day teaching.  Right out of graduate school, I didn’t have much money – and my closet reflected it.  I was, though, able to afford a new shirt and a corduroy jacket.  I wore them my first day on the job. Back then, we were given red pens to edit papers with – a trend that would change.  But for then, red it was.  Anyway, I had one in my side pocket – just in case I’d need it.  About midday, my shirt just didn’t feel right.  I went into the lavatory to check it out.  There was a huge, circular, red stain all along the lower right side of my brand new white shirt.  When I opened my jacket, I realized the stain was even larger and wetter on its inside lining than on the shirt.  The pen had apparently emptied out its ink in my pocket and spread.  I humorously thought I looked like the loser in a paintball competition.  Sometimes a little humor goes a long way, I thought.  The shirt had to be disposed of but the jacket was kind of salvageable.  I still wore it and made funny conversation over it for the semester.

This year I was heading out on a book tour for my newest book Body Intelligence – Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life.  My first speaking engagement was going to be a statewide annual teacher’s conference. I was searching through my closet for a few things to wear along the trail.  When I got toward the back of the closet, I found it – that gawky green, wide lapelled corduroy jacket.  I opened it up and there was that red stain.  After all these years, I went right back to the moment when I first noticed it all those years ago.  I thought to myself, the Tao certainly had a sense of humor – especially considering the topic about which I would be speaking to the teachers group, the next day. 

I want to make a few points for educators, especially new ones.   First, try to stay “light.” I know, we all know, that the world of academics is often full of serious demands that often generate their own brand of stressors. One piece that factors into this occupation is the sheer number of individuals and all of the variables affecting them that you have to “roll with” on a daily basis. Perhaps institutional healthcare professionals are on a similar stress track, considering the numbers of interactions and the pace.   As such, keeping a sense of both lightness and strength within helps you stay flexible and fluid in many predictable and unforeseen situations.  

One way to cultivate these is to keep your overall energies high.  By this I mean your physical, mental, and spiritual (again, nondenominational) energies.  Feeling and having a full spectrum of energy resources – specific energy: to alert, calm, organize, physically and emotionally strengthen with, get creative with, resolve conflict, as well as achieve good sleep with – is a hallmark of Body Intelligence.

There are many ways you can cultivate these specific energies with fun and natural activities.  But here are three really simple things I think will give you some relief and boost your energy, in a more general sense, during your daily activities.

  • Stay “light.” Be able to tap the brightening energy of your humor. This can be as easy as placing a positive picture of a loved one, a friend or a pet on your cell phone camera roll – the sillier the better. Making those childish funny faces or facial expressions works great. Then just take the picture out as needed – particularly before and after predictable stressful situations or whenever you need to shift throughout the day. Or you can use it to rebalance your mindset after an unpredicted, stressful situation.
  • Practice mindful movement. Many of us like to practice some outdoor exercise before work, at midday or evening. I'd like to suggest all three if that is possible within your schedule. This will help program your mind and body to sustain their energetic “sweet-spot” longer throughout the day. Common activities may include jogging or walking, even lawn or garden work. On a personal note I like to do something a little quicker paced first – like jogging – and follow that with some martial arts, yoga, tai chi or chi kung movement. There are so many good activities that it’s really up to you. What I would like to further suggest is to place into your practice some slow abdominal breathing. If you’re not sure how this works, think of it as though you are pulling the air in using the “bottom” of your lungs. Breathe comfortably – drawing air in through your nose and you can release it through your lips (or nose if that is more comfortable).Put your focus on your breaths. To do this you can think: in-breath (as you inhale) out-breath (as you exhale).This last part is important because it helps clear your head and keep it that way for a while.  It is your connection to the energy of mindfulness. Now open your focus to include more of the natural environment around you – the light, sky, trees, birds, clouds and so on. Open to other sensory detail. Take it all in or stay with one or a few. Observing all this and mindfully combining with movement (exercise activity) will increase the overall quality and staying power of your energy at all levels. The practice will stimulate a cascade of hormones that will help de-stress, energize and keep you happier.
  • Add two songs to your cell phone playlist so that you can have them whenever you need.Make the first one a tune that brings your overall physical and mental energy up and the second, one that relaxes you.If you need relaxation, listen to the slower paced tune for 10-12 minutes. Repeat if necessary. If you need to feel more energized, put on your energizing file and play for 7 minutes.

Creating patterns of higher quality energy will enable you to keep smiling, feel better internally, as well as get more accomplished and feel better about what you do.

Note:  There are many more fun and effective energy building activities you can incorporate into your daily planning.  To explore these further, you may wish to check out my book, BODY INTELLIGENCE – Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life. 

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