All-Day Energy Hacks for Music Teachers
Don’t tire out during the school day. Try these unusual ways of keeping your energy high.
We all know someone with seemingly boundless energy. They have so much vigor and stamina, the Energizer Bunny would be jealous. But what about the rest of us normal people, whose energy levels dip during the day? These dips usually happen at the most inconvenient times, like during a schoolwide staff training or before the last music class of the day. Well, fade out no more. Here are some clever and more unusual ways of boosting your energy, and no, none of them are “chug coffee.” (You’re a teacher. We assume you’re already chugging coffee.)
You’ve hauled your tush out of bed, so enjoy a little treat. Maybe that means a special mug, a super soft robe, fancy slippers or extra-soft bath towels. Life’s little luxuries mean an awful lot at the crack of dawn and can be helpful in starting the day off feeling more energized.
Turn your shower into a stimulating spa steam room. Try a shower mist spray or a shower steamer with essential oils like orange, peppermint, lemongrass or rosemary. Finish the shower by standing under cold water — see if you can gradually work up to about 30 seconds. According to cold therapy proponent Wim Hof, cold showers induce a state of alertness and focus by decreasing the amount of CO2 throughout the body. He claims you’ll eventually start to look forward to this icy blast. Hmm, we’ll see.
Eat a couple of kiwi fruit as part of breakfast. Kiwi is high in vitamin C, which is essential for the body’s energy powerhouses — mitochondria — to work optimally, according to research published in the journal Nutrients. One kiwi fruit has more vitamin C than two oranges, and has fiber and potassium to boot. Other energy-boosting breakfast foods include steel-cut oatmeal, Greek yogurt, eggs or whole grain toast with a nut butter.
On the way to school, sing in your car. In addition to being just plain fun — and a great way to entertain your fellow commuters as you zoom by performing Queen’s greatest hits — singing reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Research from the University of Oxford shows that singing also boosts positive neurological effects, reduces muscle tension and may boost the immune system. So, what song boosts your swagger?
Promote energetic vibes with yellow, a highly stimulating color. Try putting yellow flowers on your desk, or a pot with a yellow indoor plant such as kalanchoe or an orchid. If you’re allowed, paint a wall in your classroom or office yellow. Other options: a yellow sweater or shawl for chilly spaces, or a bright yellow water bottle.
Speaking of water, dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue and even mild dehydration can leave you feeling droopy. According to Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, adult women need 9 cups of water each day (72 ounces) while adult men need 10 cups (80 ounces), so sip throughout the day. If you’re not a big fan of plain water, add fresh mint, cucumber, berries or citrus fruits to your water bottle to make the beverage more enticing.
Keep to-do lists to a minimum: Three specific goals for today — that’s it. For example, “send out permission slips for field trip, call for dentist appointment, plan lesson on music mind maps.” Longer to-do lists sap your energy and make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Short lists like this help you stay energized and focused, rather than feeling discouraged and ready to curl up into a ball on the carpet.
Can you slip out for a 10 minute walk around the school campus or even up and down some stairs? A low- to moderate-effort walk is as effective in boosting energy as consuming 50 mg of caffeine, or about the same as a can of Coke or Diet Coke. That’s according to a study published in the Journal of Physiology & Behavior. That study also found that cognitive performance increased after the short walk. And unlike caffeine, a walk won’t boomerang back to keep you awake at 3 a.m.
Bonus points: Pair your walk with chewing gum — yes, you can walk and chew gum at the same time — because chewing gum boosts alertness, according to research. Cinnamon and peppermint flavors are both energizing options.
Time for a healthy snack. Almonds are high in manganese, copper and magnesium, all of which are important to the body’s energy production. Plus, almonds have protein and fiber to keep you feeling full. A serving is 23 almonds, or a small handful.
The dreaded midday slump approaches, but you are ready to banish it. It’s time to have a little afternoon dance party with your students. “I like to move it move it…” Little kids love to learn dances like the “Cha Cha Slide,” while older students can take turns DJ-ing their current favorites for their classmates to groove to.
Your workday is hopefully coming to a close, but busy music educators like you probably have plenty of tasks left to accomplish. Beat late-day lethargy by rubbing your ears. The ears have energy points, according to traditional Chinese medicine and yoga philosophies, and stimulating these by massaging the ears can release tension and boost energy. Massage therapist Rachel Richards has a video with instructions.