I hate dark winter mornings. I hated them even more as a teacher. Waking up at 6am meant that I never saw a sunrise thanks to the reduced daylight hours and the unfortunate placement of my classroom relative to the morning sun. It’s all too easy to snooze the alarm and hope that, somehow, you’ll wake up in the spring. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) hits hard during the winter months, but there are plenty of things you can do to make these long, dark months better and improve teacher wellbeing.
Note: I’m linking products in this post so you can go away and look at them at your leisure – this is not a product endorsement or advertisement and I’m certainly not getting paid to mention these things!
It All Starts with a Good Night of Sleep
First things first… sleep is important and none of this advice will help if you’re burning the midnight oil. Set yourself a bedtime, stick to it and avoid screens before bed too. If you set your bedtime for 10pm and plan lessons until 9:59pm, your bedtime isn’t 10pm. Set a bedtime, ban yourself from your screen (Screen Time built into iOS12 is a good one for this if you’re an Apple user!) and get a good night of sleep.
Maintain Teacher Wellbeing
A cliché but true. Eating well and getting some exercise can do wonders for you when you find getting out of bed a challenge – eating well will give you the energy and nutrition your body needs instead of loading up on carbs and the exercise will ensure that your body gets the most out of its sleep and rest cycle.
Step Toward the Light!
The lack of light was my biggest downfall – why would anyone want to get out of bed into a pitch-black room? I invested in a Lumie Sunrise Alarm that gently fills the room with light over the course of 30 minutes. If you’re a particularly light sleeper, this alone might be enough to wake you up and it’s much more natural than an alarm clock! If you’re particularly tech-savvy and have some smart home bulbs, you can achieve the same effect by scheduling a slowly rising light too.
Clever Sleep Apps
An old-fashioned alarm clock does nothing for me – my desire to remove the batteries or throw the clock out of the window is at an all-time high during winter. I found an app by the name of ‘Pillow’ that lets you set a 30-minute wake-up window and by magic, it seems to know when you’re at your lightest point of sleep and only begins to lull you from your slumber at that point. The app also has some useful noise generators if you like a little noise to fall asleep to, too!
Make Time for Breakfast
Once you’re out of bed, showered and dressed you should make enough time to have some breakfast and a drink – and I don’t mean a pastry at the station or a drive-through. Actual breakfast in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t like the idea of preparing something in the morning, overnight oats are great and simply require a few minutes of forward-planning the night before. I personally found that making time for breakfast reduced my stress levels because I didn’t feel like everything was a last-second mad rush.
Commute? More Like Comm-you-te…
Terrible pun, I know. Avoid using your commute to think about, engage with or do any work and stay away from your emails. Make the commute to work an extension of your own time. Read or listen to an audiobook, catch up on a podcast, enjoy some music… use your commute as you-time. Do anything to maintain teacher wellbeing…it really is essential!
I hope that you find some of these tips useful! Let us know if you have any particularly good tips and ideas to beat the dark weather and get out of bed with pep in your step!