A teacher’s guide to enjoying your summer holiday in spite of lockdowns, travel restrictions and soaring summer temperatures.
Every teacher deserves a fun and restful summer... especially this year when teachers were asked to do the impossible, and continue to persevere under pressure. It’s so important to take a well-deserved break, but relaxing this summer might be more of a challenge than it has been in previous years. Maybe you’re still socially distancing, or you’re stuck inside because of unruly weather, or you simply don’t have the will to move after such a tumultuous term.
We’ve come up with 10 summer hobbies that you can do anywhere under any covid-related restrictions. We promise they’ll help you to relax and recuperate without leading to the mid-summer slump that Netflix bingeing always brings.
Everyone knows the soothing effect that nature has on our mental health, but this year it can be particularly difficult to get outside. Whether you’re in the UAE, where the temperature is 40 degrees celsius and rising, or the UK, where the summer is wet and skies can be grey, here are some nature-based hobbies you can pick up without leaving your house.
1. Become a plant parent.Studies show that interactions with house plants reduce physiological and psychological stress; houseplants are good for your mental health! Soil is proven to have similar effects on the brain as antidepressants, and plant-care promotes mindfulness. Caring for plants also keeps your brain active as you learn their needs, plus plants will keep your air clean. Visit your local plant souk/market or order your new plants online.
Bonus: If you’re already comfortable with taking care of houseplants, learn how to propagate them yourself and watch as one plant multiplies into many. Alternatively, check out this succulent terrarium tutorial : the video alone will make you feel more relaxed.
2. Foster or babysit a pet. Lots of people move around during the summer, and suddenly the family rabbit or tortoise is alone for weeks or months in a kennel. Ask your pet-owning friends and colleagues if they need a sitter for the summer. You can also ask your local animal shelter to let you foster one of their animals. Taking care of an animal keeps your brain active; stroking and feeding one has a soothing effect on your mood. You will feel good helping a lonely creature and you’ll learn which kind of pet is best for you without contributing to pet overpopulation.
Bonus: If you don’t want to bring an animal into your home, you can always drive by a farm or stop by a petting zoo to watch some goats (camels if you’re in the UAE!) or volunteer at a shelter to get your dose of animal joy.
3. Start your own vegetable garden. According to Psychology Today, there are at least ten mental health benefits to gardening, especially outside. If you have an outdoor space you can start by designating a plot that has lots of sunlight and choose plants that are best able to survive in your climate. Or you can create an indoor garden! Grow herbs on a sunny windowsill, or flowers in hanging planters by the front door; you could also try an indoor water garden, complete with a pet fish.
Bonus: If you don’t have green thumbs, you can try making a zen rock garden for meditation. Visiting the farmer’s market is another alternative, or try making a garden salad with organic veggies from your local grocery store.
Whether you’re a daily gym-goer or runner, or if you prefer to go at a slower pace, summer 2020 is a great time to find new fitness hobbies and see what you can try at home. Moving your body will give you energy, boost your happiness, and reduce the anxiety that last term brought. Here are two unique ideas for you to add to your fitness routine.
4. Learn to dance. There has never been a better time to start dancing and with everyone stuck at home... nobody is watching. Perfect a trending Tiktok dance, or follow a Youtube class through a channel like this one. Dancing improves your heart health, balance, confidence and mood. You’ll be beyond ready to hit the dance floor once everything has opened up again.
Bonus: Read an inspirational story about one teacher in Mexico and her passion for dance.
5. Try Laughter Yoga. Yoga is always a popular activity, and has grown in popularity since the lockdown. We like this channel on Youtube for free classes. But why not add some laughter to your practice? Laughter is proven to improve your mood and make you feel good. Check out our podcast with Laughter Yoga leader Dana Abdel Khalek to learn more about the benefits, or follow along with a laughter yoga session we did during our teacher retreat.
6. Reading. Hit up your favourite bookstore and browse through the shelves to find your next summer reads, or order books online, preferably from a small bookstore to support a local business. We’ve come up with a summer reading list of favourites from Team Teacherly as a starting point.
Bonus: start a virtual book-club with friends. Read the same books and discuss them together as a way of staying connected over long distance.
7. Podcasts. If you love to listen to music while you drive, cook, or exercise, you should try listening to podcasts too. This summer is a great time to explore the amazing content out there and find your favourite hosts. There are podcasts for free on whatever topic interests you. Check out our favourite podcast channels.
Teachers are sick and tired of Zoom calls, and for good reason! To some of us, the thought of jumping on a Zoom call, even if it’s to chat with friends or family, is exhausting. So we’ve come up with three ways to connect from a distance that are Zoom-free.
8. Set up a virtual game night. Agree on a time with your friends, grab your favourite snack (or maybe something to drink) and have an online games tournament. Scrabble Go, Heads up! Boggle and Scattergories all have online versions that you can play remotely. The Houseparty app will help you connect and play together.
Bonus: You can use the same concept to set up a quiz night too.
9. Jazz up your virtual movie night. Even if you can’t physically be with friends, you can still create a cinema-worthy movie experience. Grab all of your favourite movie snacks and don’t forget to set up your speaker to create a surround-sound experience. If you have a projector you can pick a blank wall and feel like you’re watching on a big screen. Netflix party will let you and your friends watch together and you won’t have to listen to your chatty friend talking through the best parts-- or share your snacks.
10. Volunteer for social good. Not only would you be helping a cause that is close to your heart, it is also good for you. Volunteering combats depression and anxiety, gives you a sense of purpose, and increases your confidence. Read a list of volunteer opportunities that you can do virtually from home. We also have a blog post dedicated to getting you started: How I can foster my students to be changemakers.
There is no better time than the summer to take care of yourself and your mental health. This summer will be especially important as teachers face the uncertainty of next term and prepare for it. Whether you’re feeding the goats or dancing in your pj’s, be sure to switch off and relax as much as you can.
Did you use any of our ideas, or have any others for us to try? We’d love to hear from you: write us a comment below.