Let’s face it—every classroom is a germ farm. Even medical professionals seem to get sick less often than teachers. And, for some reason, any bug you pick up around school seems to mutate into a stronger species once it hits you. Teachers write this off as part of the job, but it doesn’t have to be. Take these steps now, and save yourself a few sick days later.
Hand sanitizer is not the only solution
Hand sanitizer is now ubiquitous among classroom supplies, but have you noticed a significant drop in illnesses in recent years? That’s not to say hand sanitizer isn’t effective, but it shouldn’t be your only line of defense. In particular, hand sanitizer does not replace hand washing, both for you and your students. If you have trouble remembering to wash your hands, try making it a self-pampering treat by investing in some fancy soaps and creams.
One place where sanitization has improved is in the fight against germs living on surfaces. Divert some of your hand sanitizer budget for antibacterial wipes, then assign a few students the job of “germ fighter”. With regular use, you will start to see a healthier classroom.
Drink lots and lots of water
Water is the transmission fluid of your immune system, and hydration is key to staying healthy. However, some teachers, even though they spend the day speaking, are afraid to drink many fluids for fear of having make mid-class bathroom breaks. Drinking water and staying healthy is worth the effort of working out some sort of bathroom class-monitoring arrangement with your fellow teachers. Invest in one of those fancy mugs that keep things cool or warm all day. If you need to flavor the water with tea or mixes, do it.
Allergies aren’t just allergies
Many people get stuffed up during allergy season and have learned to work around it during those times of the year. The problem is that congestion and other symptoms of allergies actually work to keep germs inside your body, increasing the chance that an allergic attack transforms into a cold. Over-the-counter allergy remedies are designed for the onset of symptoms. If you want to stop attacks before they start, consult your doctor (preferably one that deals in ear, nose, and throat). Steroids and a daily medication may keep allergy season at bay.
Exercise in and out of the room
Getting the blood flowing helps the immune system fight off germs. Moving around the classroom is good pedagogical practice but it can also keep you healthy. Get your students involved as well by incorporating stretching breaks or yoga into your lessons. For more vigorous exercise without going to the gym, organize a before- or after-school walking group.
Don’t ignore a bug
In the scramble to keep up with the demands of teaching, many educators try to ignore symptoms for as long as possible when they feel a bug coming on. However, that only makes sure the sickness will hit at full force. The minute you feel something amiss, resolve that you will eat well for the rest of the day, drink plenty of water, take a nice bath or shower, and get to bed early. A stronger mind and body makes a greater challenge for any germ to infect.
Keeping yourself physically healthy doesn’t stop with germ-fighting practices—focusing on mental health is just as important! Watch these TED Talks for a little educator inspiration, or check out these tips for teachers to “treat yo’self”!