What should I do on Spring Break? (Or any break!)

Think of it first as a Health Break. Teaching is a stressful profession. Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at the University of Manchester’s business school and a former government adviser on well-being, said the profession regularly ranked among the most stressful jobs. “Of all the occupations I’ve studied, and that’s about 80, teachers are in the top three most stressed occupations,” he said. “The hours are long and anti-social, the workload is heavy and there is change for change’s sake from various governments.”   Read overactive administrators for ‘various governments’ and we’ve covered the gamut of public and private schools!

So Spring Break is a big deal and an opportunity to move from being overwhelmed to feeling eustress: the positive psychological response to a stressor that results in a “mindful state of challenge, a healthy state of aroused attention on the task, exhilaration, and being fully present.” Stress is itself not a bad thing. Being overwhelmed leading to anxiety, depression, and a weaker immune system. So what makes for a good vacation?

Try the following tips from verywellmind.com:

  1. Play some games – with your own children amongst grass, trees, and water; a new card game you’ve never tried before; board games. Just play!
  2. Read a book that is not related to teaching. Go to the library and sit in a chair and read some magazines. Catch up on an interest that you haven’t had time for. Ask your best friend what the latest book is that you should read. Even stretch yourself and read something in an area you haven’t tried before.
  3. When was the last time you really laughed? Get together with some friends and laugh. Listen to your children and really laugh.
  4. Depending on where you are, get out into the garden and plant, prepare for planting, get some seeds planted inside ready to put out when they’re ready. It’s great exercise (all that bending in different directions), it’s purposeful, it makes your hands dirty which is fun, and it results in something good to eat.
  5. Listen to music. Really listen. Put it on, shut the curtains, tell everyone in the house to go to a movie, and drown in sound.
  6. Finally, instead of going to the gym, do some exercise where you can get Vitamin D that you’ve been craving all winter. Go for a walk in a state or provincial park. Go for a ride without a map. Take a snack so you can go longer than you thought you might. Feel the air and look at nature. And raise your heart rate!

Of course, here at Empower we’re sure you already have it planned. Just in case you haven’t, follow these hints and you can’t go wrong. The only thing we haven’t mentioned yet is eating. Cook at home and produce something really good. While it’s smelling good, have a nap with a glass of red wine and dark chocolate. Research says that’s a really good snack.


Simon Jeynes