Physical wellbeing is associated with the extent to which we feel physically safe and healthy. It includes: physical activity, nutrition, physical safety and security, and preventative health care. Physical wellbeing enables positive health outcomes.
Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked. Schools play a vital role in promoting physical activity, providing advice about nutritious foods, fostering social inclusion and providing targeted support for students and families. Creating opportunities to enhance protective factors and reduce risk factors related to aspects of mental and physical health leads to enhanced wellbeing and learning outcomes. Students do benefit from physical activity, but not just physically. They gain important mental, social and academic benefits as well. As a teacher, you can help your students to get active through a motivational school environment, class activities, clubs, sports, and field trips. Physical activity has an impact on cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, and it also enhances classroom attitudes and behaviors, all of which are important components of improved academic performance.
Understanding the links between mind and body allows schools to develop supportive strategies. It enables schools to develop whole-school approaches to create a positive and healthy learning environment and to explicitly teach and embed social and emotional skills related to personal safety, resilience, and help-seeking to enhance protective factors for students. Schools can also teach and model effective practices to promote healthy exercise and nutrition and create opportunities for students to practise decision-making skills to make well-informed healthy choices.
Nowadays, the importance of physical and mental well-being of teachers and students needs to be emphasized more than ever. Education or any activity that involves an exchange of knowledge should involve a consistent focus on mental and physical wellness. Most teachers are tensed about their job all the time. Teachers undergo tremendous stress to create an engaging learning experience. Creating a sound teaching plan and finally achieving the “learning-objectives” involves many stages. At each stage, a teacher gets involved and strives to deliver to the best of his ability. In a performance-driven world, it becomes increasingly stressful to fulfil the demands of students while ticking all the deliverables in a limited time frame. A mentally relaxing environment brings in positivity. Wellness of teachers has been linked to the effectiveness of teaching. It has a positive impact on the achievement of students. A mentally relaxed and blissful teacher brings positive energy to the sessions. A happy teacher exudes positivity which directly impacts the learning environment. It is very important to ensure the emotional well-being of teachers. Teachers know that all students are not the same. Each human individual has a different set of talents, pursuits, and ambition. However, it is not always easy to strike a balance. Focus should not just be on self-care but also building systems that reduce stress. Teachers and students need to be healthy and happy. Any teaching or learning activity is incomplete without the inclusion of physical and mental fulfilment.
Schools must think out of the box and deliver holistic solutions that would ensure both mental and physical well-being of teachers and students. These solutions should be implemented consistently keeping their long term impact in mind. The following can be done to promote physical wellbeing in the school:
- Support active play during recess / lunch / before school by providing sport equipment
- Create and promote co-curricular activities
- Movement breaks in all classes that are short and manageable, maybe of two to five minutes each
- Creating a safe environment
- Risk assessments communicated to staff and students in advance
- Visible and active playground supervision by teachers
- Soap and hand sanitiser being available for students and staff
- Breakfast clubs
- Parent information nights
- Student made posters around the school
- Classroom debates about nutrition and sleep
- School gardens – students grow fresh herbs and vegetables
- Healthy school canteen – students learn to choose healthy options
- Co-ordinated, cross-curricular approach using a deliberate focus on promotion of healthy eating habits