Podcast with Dr. Bethanie L. Hansen, Department Chair, School of Arts, Humanities and Education
The New Year is a time to reflect on what we accomplished during the prior year and also what we can improve upon in the coming year. In this episode, APU’s Dr. Bethanie Hansen discusses three habits that can help online instructors with their productivity and health. Listen to learn more about ways to improve your work-life balance as well as your mental and physical health.
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This podcast is for educators, academics and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun. Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen. And I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics, and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.
Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge, I’m your host Dr. Bethanie Hansen, and I’m excited to speak with you about 2022. These are new habits you may adopt in the coming year and, at the time of this recording, it is just about the new year. Of course, these new habits can benefit you at any time and you’re welcome to listen to this podcast even far after the new year has begun.
There are so many ways we can adopt new habits. The most difficult kind of habit is the one that we want to break, that we consider to be a bad habit. But you’re in luck. We can actually remove a bad habit by replacing it with something healthy and positive.
If we leave a vacuum like we’re just trying to stop a bad habit, there’s nothing to fill that void. Chances are that habit is going to return.
But if we find a reason that really motivates us to replace it with a new habit, and we intentionally move to the new habit when we’re triggered to go back to that old habit, we just may find a new habit starting. I’m going to propose today three new habits you might try in 2022 as an online educator, to help with your productivity and your health and well-being and, of course, your work-life balance.
One Habit for Productivity in 2022
The first one is for your productivity. This is, in 2022, a new habit could be to eat for productivity. One tip would be to decide what and where you are going to eat before you get hungry.
I don’t know about you, but I often spend many hours sitting in front of my computer doing my online teaching and my online work. If I’m going to do this and I haven’t decided ahead of time what I’m going to eat, it’s very tempting for me to eat something unhealthy that’s more convenient and quicker to grab.
If I don’t have time to grab something in the kitchen downstairs, I just might order Door Dash. Door Dash is a wonderful thing, but if I start to order that too often, I am going to get a lot of fancy additives from restaurants in my food and I’m also going eat larger portions than I might otherwise consume. So, decide what and where to eat before you are hungry, and you will have a plan before it’s too late.
The second idea is to graze throughout the day. And this normalizes your glucose by helping you to have somewhat of a stable blood-sugar level. So, if you’re eating a little bit, regularly throughout the day every couple of hours, that’s not nearly as hard of an impact as eating a very large meal and then waiting many hours. Some things you might consider grazing throughout the day would be things like the healthy protein snacks: nuts, protein bars.
You can automate this if you want to by subscribing to some kind of service that would send you these healthy snacks. Like maybe it is Door Dash, maybe it’s Amazon, or Walmart.com. Whatever it takes, if you have a regular routine of adding those healthy snacks to your household, it can be a lot easier for you to snack on them.
Also, if you create an available cache of these healthy snacks, it makes it a lot easier for you to choose them. Maybe it’s sliced cheese, or yogurts, or nuts, different kinds of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, whatever you need to have for your healthy snacks. If you have them on hand, you can quickly grab them when you need them.
And then, of course, more fruits and vegetables. Research tells us that eating more fruits and vegetables makes us happier, more engaged, and even more creative. Believe it or not, fruits and vegetables foster dopamine production. They create antioxidants, or they give you antioxidants, that minimize inflammation and improve your memory and enhance your mood. And when you’re in a state of feeling better with your mood and you’re not having a lot of inflammation, you’re having better memory, this is giving you a space to be more curious, more motivated, and more engaged. So, if you eat for productivity as your first habit in 2022, you’ll find that you’re ready to go. Your body is in a healthy state and more likely to respond when you need your brain to be working hard.
One Habit for Health and Wellbeing in 2022
The second is for your health and well-being. So, if we’re eating for productivity, while what would be a health and well-being thing to do? I would like to recommend that you set some kind of a morning routine for yourself.
Now whatever that morning routine is depends on your own personal mission in life or your priorities, whatever you choose to start with. And if you start with some kind of a routine that you do every day, there’s some kind of regularity to that. And over time you’re going to get a lot of benefits out of that routine.
Some people choose to read in the morning. Maybe it’s an uplifting book. A book in your field. Something inspiring. Maybe it’s scriptures. If you have something that you read first thing in the morning, it can give you some new thoughts and help you start your day with some fresh ideas.
Another idea is to start a morning gratitude practice. This turns your attitude to the positive right from the beginning, and if you face a lot of challenges in your online teaching or a very large workload, this could help you to see the other side that is also part of your work and your life.
Maybe you want to consider making your bed in the morning. I’ve heard that if you make your bed in the morning, you’ve already done something challenging, and you can see the nicely made bed when you go back into your room later in the day and it just brings that good feeling of cleanliness.
Another thing you might do is to do some exercise in your morning routine. Someone suggested that you could do 20 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes of reading, and then 20 minutes of meditation and reflection or prayer. Whatever your focus is for that last part, the meditation, the reflection, or prayer, it can really be a space to align with your higher power, whatever that might be. To think about things beyond your own experience, even to reflect on where you’ve been and what you’re hoping to achieve today.
Whatever the practice is, setting a morning routine of some sort to help you get started well can really give your health and well-being a boost and help you feel great about the day ahead no matter how hard it is. And then lastly, we’re looking at work-life balance.
One Habit for Work-Life Balance in 2022
Now for good work-life balance when you’re an online educator, you are going to have to achieve the things during the day that you expect to get done. Good work-life balance starts with setting reasonable expectations for your day. I’m one of those people who likes to create a list that probably will not all be achieved in one day alone, and then at the end of the day I’m thinking I could squeeze in one or two more things that are on that list to try to accomplish them before bedtime.
I don’t recommend doing it this way every day. I like to do that some of the time, and some of the time I look at that as my weekly list, which is much healthier.
So, create your list of things to do in a reasonable manner that allows you to end your workday on time, and set a hard stop at the end of your day. If you close your computer and walk away from it, put your online teaching away and all of that work that you’re doing online, and get up and stretch and get some sunshine or some fresh air outside, whatever that might be. You’re going to have a better experience because your life outside of work will also become richer.
One of the best ways to have a good working life is to have a good life outside of work. Whatever richness you want to bring into your life, whether it is family time, personal time, community service, community time in your organizations you belong to, in your neighborhood, connecting with other people. All that time is good for your development and to separate you from your work.
Believe it or not, your subconscious mind is doing a lot of working in the background to help you get ready for the next day you go back to work. So, without breaking from work and getting on with the rest of your life, your subconscious brain doesn’t have a chance to get things in line and prepare for the next day. So, having a good stop time is super healthy to let your brain do its magic in the background while you also have an enjoyable life outside of work.
Summing it Up: With New Habits, Celebrate the Wins
As you approach the coming year, I hope you’ll think about three new habits that will help you to have a great start to your year as an online educator. Now one thing I want to throw in here to help you with establishing a new habit is when you try these new habits, if you can either replace a negative habit with one of these new strategies or tie it to an existing habit, they call that habit stacking, look for a pattern in your day. Something that seems like a habit. And tie this new habit to that existing thing that’s going well for you.
When you add the new positive habit to something existing, it can become very easy and a strong routine that will take you throughout the whole year to come. I hope as you set the new habits that you will also give yourself some space to reflect on all of the wins from the previous year.
You’ve accomplished a lot in 2021. Even if you’re hard on yourself and you think you haven’t accomplished all your goals, if you sit down and take inventory, you just might find you have actually accomplished quite a bit. There’s a lot to celebrate. I myself am going to add that habit to the end of each day in 2022.
That is, to list three or more things that went well and why they went well. Which of those things where the result of my efforts? And which of those things need to have gratitude demonstrated towards other people because they went well from other people’s efforts? And which things were collaborative?
I’m looking forward to seeing a pattern in those areas and documenting those wins every day in 2022. I wish you all the best in your online teaching this coming year and in considering your new habits.
This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit bethaniehansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.