Author: Davy Guo, Psychologist, Community Relations Manager, with Ronni Rowland, Writer

There’s a lot of truth to the adage: “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” However, if you’re that busy person, take a moment to reflect on your overall health.

“Teachers have especially demanding schedules, but they need to make time for self-care,” says Davy Guo, psychologist at ELG. “Self-care prevents burnout, reduces stress, and helps you excel in your personal and professional life, so it’s important to engage in a routine that is sustainable for the long-term.”

Here are 5 healthy habits for you to start today:

1. Eat well.
Aim for a diet full of vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts and seeds, with little starch and no sugar. Davy notes, “When it comes to eating, keeping a regular schedule matters. If you don’t eat regularly, you may skip a meal, wait too long between meals, or eat fast-food. This is unhealthy and causes energy highs and lows.”

2. Exercise regularly.
Make time to exercise, even (especially!) if you are busy. Be consistent and creative with your workouts. One way to stay motivated and accountable is to find an exercise buddy or join a group such as FitFam, a fitness community that offers free workouts throughout Shanghai. Exercise is good for your physical and mental health, so get moving.

3. Spend your time (and money) on what matters.
Take a look at where you spend your time and money. What energizes you? What drains you or causes negativity? Davy notes that you should “protect your calendar and learn to say no. Create down time in your busy schedule.”

4. Practice good emotional hygiene.
Acknowledge your feelings, and ask for help when you need it. Sometimes, it helps to talk to a friend about what bothers you. In other cases, a mental health professional can offer strategies that are tailored to your unique situation and needs.

5. Meditate.
Practicing mindfulness is an effective way to de-stress. Meditating at the start of your day gives focus, and an end-of-day meditation can help you reflect. Davy observes that “many people go through their days without ‘checking in’ or realizing what they’re feeling. Doing a ‘body scan’ meditation allows you to slow down and acknowledge each part of the body from the top down.”

If you need help getting into a meditation routine, try the app Stop, Breathe & Think for guidance.

It’s important to remember that self-care is not a reward, and it’s not something to do someday “when you have time.” You deserve self-care today and every day.

Davy Guo will be presenting a free seminar in Chinese, Educator Forum: Communicating with Parents, on Thursday, December 7, 2017. For more information, or to register for the event, click here.