by Shannon Buerk, Founder, and CEO of engage2learn.
For a few years now, I have taken on a health challenge over Spring Break that has made the time even more beneficial. I have challenged people I care about to do the same, and those who have done it, share that it makes a difference in the quality of time during Spring Break as well as their frame of mind after Spring Break. Want to try the 4 things that make up this challenge?
De-stress with a Good Book
While this may seem counterintuitive, reading has been scientifically proven to help our bodies (and brains) to de-stress. A recent study conducted by the Yale University of Public Health found that reading can actually increase your lifespan by 23 percent; in fact, reading improves the connectivity between our brain cells, which lowers our risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s (source). Still need more incentive to dive into a good book during vacation from – let’s face it – lots of books? Reading can decrease stress levels by up to 60 percent (source) and help us to wind down. The Mayo Clinic suggests swapping our smartphones at bedtime for a good book, a simple trick that will “promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness,” (source). This Spring Break, I challenge all of us to get lost in literature at least once each day.
Sleep, Sweet Sleep
As educators, sleep is elusive far too often. A never-ending to-do list or simply the stress that comes from being a public educator can rob us of those seven to nine hours necessary for healthy brain function. Nevertheless, sleep is imperative for both our physical and mental health. I get it…there was a time in my life when I ran on very little sleep, de-prioritizing sleep over just about everything else…trying to fit as much into a day and night as possible. Now, I recognize how wrong I was. Dr. Raymond Jean, the director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in NYC, puts it simply: “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better.” Just reflect upon the benefits of adequate sleep in this quick slide show from Health magazine and challenge yourself to some much-needed zzz’s this Spring Break. At engage2learn, we have a few sleep hacks to help you off to dreamland, which I’ve shared below!
Try a Detox…a Tech Detox
For many of us, technology is as natural a part of our lives as coffee (or in my case, green tea). We are so dependent upon it that we cannot function without it. I won’t bore you with the staggering statistics about how technology impacts our productivity; if you’re interested, however, review How to Add 13 Years to Your Life for tips to better control your technology. In the meantime, take.a.break…from all of it, even if it is brief. Psychology Today notes that a tech detox might be just what the doctor ordered and even lists seven tips for easing into this challenge. I have found that at least 24 hours without tech (get your family involved as well) is a way to detox and discover some amazing quality time without distractions. Or just limit your tech time to certain hours each day during the break.
Ground Yourself With the Earth
Not sure what to do with yourself without tech? Try grounding yourself…with the earth, that is. Often referred to as “earthing,” I encourage you to seek out a direct connection between your physical body and the sand, the dirt, the grass…whatever! Our ancestors touched the earth daily with their bare feet, yet in 2019, we spend so much of our daily lives cooped up in a classroom, an office, or even our own homes. The research on earthing is fascinating! The Journal on Alternative and Complementary Medicine even cites medical benefits as well: “Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events.” So, this Spring Break, I challenge you to ground yourself, wherever you are. For me, that will be in my hometown on the beaches of Padre Island.