It’s winter break!!! Why not use your extra time to try something new or develop a healthy habit? While I don’t believe in homework over break—especially for health!—here are some things you can do with your time to improve your health, so you can go into the spring semester refreshed and ready for action.
1. Start a meditation practice
The research is clear, and we know we need to meditate, but it can be a difficult habit to get started on. Now’s the perfect time! Download an app and give yourself a two-week challenge. Start with just five minutes a day, and see if you can work your way up
2. Begin journaling
Write down your thoughts at the end of the day, or even better, at the beginning. Get into the habit of doing “morning pages”, a highly effective tool for unlocking creativity. Write three pages a day, by hand, every morning when you wake up.
3. Cook some veggies
Hit up your local farmer’s market, buy what’s fresh, and then find a recipe to go along with it. Shock your family.
4. Read a bio of one of your favorite people
Pay attention to how they set goals and dealt with failure. Notice all the times they built up resilience and grit. Then make a list of some goals for yourself for the coming year.
5. Try a new physical activity
Why not yoga? It’s gaining popularity among professional athletes, as it helps you train your muscles and your mind. Lots of studios have free two-week passes for beginners- now would be the perfect time to try. Or, if that’s not your jam, get all of your friends together for lazer tag, go to Zumba with your mom, film a silly music video with your brother. Whatever it is, just get moving!
6. Hang out with some senior citizens
Learning how to use the Internet can actually help improve the health and well-being of seniors. So teach your grandparents how to use Skype, visit an older neighbor and get them hooked on Words with Friends, or grab a bunch of friends, head to the local senior center, and ask if you can run some free workshops. Here are some ideas from DoSomething,org to help get started.
7. Plan a (screen free!) family field trip
It’s important to connect with the people around us, but so many times, our screens pull us away. Look online and pretend you’re a tourist in your own town. Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but haven’t had a chance? Or something you used to do as a family but haven’t done in a while?
Check out a museum, go bowling, hop on your bikes and explore the town. No cheating and going to the movies either… the point is to talk, hang out and be around each other, without any screens in the way. You can use your phone to take pictures… just wait until you get home before you post them.
8. Get involved in some #advocacy
Is there a cause you feel strongly about? Research it, spread the word, and inspire others to get involved too.
9. Reconnect with an old friend
Is there someone you had drama with that wouldn’t mind having back in your life? Send them an email, a friend request, or even a handwritten card.
‘Tis the season for forgiveness, and you guys have both probably changed. Be the first one to reach out. If they don’t reciprocate, then just reach out to someone new!
10. Spark your passion
A couple of years ago, one of my 8th graders got grounded for the weekend. His punishment? He wasn’t allowed to do anything on his computer except watch TED Talks. He came to school on Monday pumped, inspired, and ready to share everything he learned with the class.
Now I wouldn’t recommend going on a hardcore binge, but why not try watching a new one every day? Here’s a list with the top 20 TED Talks of all time to help get started. Maybe you’ll find one that really speaks to you,
No matter what you your plans are this holiday, make sure you take the time to laugh, appreciate your loved ones, and get caught up on some sleep.
Have a happy and healthful break!
About the author: Amy teaches Middle School Health at the Shanghai American School and has a passion for curriculum that is current, relevant, adaptable, and shared. She has presented at conferences in Asia as well as the AAHPERD and SHAPE America National Conventions. You can access her blog and resources at thehealthteacher.com and find her on twitter at @teaching_health.