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How Healthy Are You?

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (October 19, 2017)

"I was leading a teacher training session last week and the topic was on character education and classroom management but I started the workshop with something that was seemingly unrelated. I asked the teachers to reflect on how healthy they are. Now most people will just think of their physical health when asked this question but the World Health Organisation defines health as the following:

"a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

So in other words, health is a combination of physical, mental and social health. For ease of brainstorming, I separated it into 5 categories: physical, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental, whereby the environmental health is things regarding our surroundings that can affect the other areas of health.

And after introducing the five categories, I invited the teachers to think about one habit in each area that they could establish for better health. And after the roomful of teachers brainstormed, they shared some really great ideas. One teacher shared that for her physical health she would eat an apple instead of drink coffee every morning as it’s a healthier way to start the day, another teacher shared that for her emotional health, she would use her commute to work as a time for reflection and mindful thinking instead of being on her phone. I shared that for me, when my desk is messy, it spirals into me getting stressed and being emotionally unhealthy so my environmental healthiness is keeping a tidy workspace. For spiritual, it doesn’t necessarily mean something related to religion, even though it usually is, and for some, being mindful is a spiritual practice.

And one area of healthiness often leads to healthiness in other areas. One teacher shared that she would go to the gym as a way to be physically healthy but she knows that after going to the gym, her endorphins kick in and she’s emotionally more happy too. I know that when I’m spiritually healthy, it also leads to better emotional and social health.

So after all the brainstorming of healthy habits, I shared with the teachers why I wanted to kick off the training with this topic. It’s because their health and well-being will directly affect their teaching and the health and well-being of their students.

As a teacher, I know that if I didn’t sleep well the night before and am physically tired, I’m less likely to be attentive to the needs of all my students. Worse still, I’m more likely to get frustrated with them on things that wouldn’t have bothered me if I had had a good night’s sleep. Or if I’m emotionally unwell, it’s less likely that I will be patient and calm in addressing a student’s needs. My health affects their health. And so, as teachers, we have the responsibility to ourselves and to our students to be healthy.

If I as a teacher can have such a great impact on a child, how much more so as a parent? As the mother of a toddler, I know how unrealistic having sufficient sleep and a healthy social life can be but it’s something we must strive to have. If we aren’t healthy, then likely we’re not giving our best to our children. So how healthy are you? And what healthy habits can you start developing today? Whatever you choose to pursue will fare you and your child better so start today and live in a healthy way!"


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