2018 is now almost two months old, and while we commonly look ahead and set goals or resolutions on January 1, by the time February rolls around they can be long forgotten. We are a school that values and practises reflection. When it comes to our own habits and routines – healthy or otherwise – reflection can play a valuable role in striving to be our best selves. For SMUS students, we know that their daily habits have an impact on how they learn; how they perform, on the field, or in the musical; and how healthy and balanced students feel.
I would like to invite readers to take a few minutes out of their day to take an inventory on their current self care. Think of this as a checklist of sorts, which will look at how well we eat, sleep, move and think.
We know that what we put into our bodies directly impacts our health. Eating high quality food will set us up to live a healthy, happy life. Eating well leads to sustained energy levels, provides fuel for exercise and sport, and helps us learn. What kinds of food are you eating?
- Are you eating more whole foods than processed food?
- Are you minimizing added sugar in your diet?
- Are you eating a plant strong diet, with plenty of vegetables?
To function at their optimum, humans need at least 7.5 hours of sleep per night, or more, with students needing between 8-10 hours each night. Getting a full night’s sleep helps us feel alert, improves our moods, and allows us to consolidate our learning. Equally as important, people who are regularly sleep deprived are simply unable to function at high level, with one night of sleep deprivation impacting cognition by up to 30%. How is your sleep hygiene?
- Are you keeping phones and other screens out of your bedroom, and putting them away at least an hour before bed?
- Do you stick to a regular bed time with a consistent routine?
- Are you regularly getting the prescribed hours per sleep each night?
Exercise is the closest thing to a panacea we know of. It increases our focus and creates the conditions for learning. It is linked to improved mental health, and can help manage stress, anxiety and depression. Exercise also fights all sorts of physical ailments, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. When we talk about movement, however, it does not have to be high intensity interval training or a boot camp. Movement can simply be choosing a lifestyle that is less sedentary and builds in opportunities to sit less. How are you moving?
- Do you build in exercise or sports as a regular part of your routine?
- Do you look for ways to minimise time spent sitting?
- Do you walk places instead of driving a short distance, or choose to take the stairs over an elevator?
The trifecta of eating well, moving more and sleeping soundly creates the foundation for thinking clearly. Our mindset is a powerful force that can help us manage stress, maintain high energy levels, and achieve happiness. By carefully building our routines around self care, and including a few simple practices, we can create the conditions for optimum mental health. How are you doing in this important area?
- Do you find a way to practise gratitude daily, and appreciate what you have?
- Do you have a healthy relationship with technology, and include meaningful time away from screens in your day?
- Do you value relationships and experiences, and make time for the people in your life who are important?
- Do you embrace a growth mindset and positive self talk?
The framework of eat, sleep, move, think is a good one, and helps us reflect on our habits and routines. It’s also the formula used by Dr. Greg Wells, one of Canada’s most inspiring thinkers around health and wellness. SMUS is thrilled to be hosting Dr. Wells during our upcoming Wellness Week, which will see him present to our entire school community on April 12. Look for more information on this coming your way. In the mean time, I invite you to take inventory of your habits, and look for ways to make small, achievable changes.