Self-care is increasingly identified as a foundation for physical and mental health and wellbeing. It can be explained as self-directed activities a person engages in with the goal of moving towards a more optimal level of health. Self-care activities involve general daily living tasks (such as healthy eating, getting enough sleep and regular exercise) and can incorporate additional self-initiated activities that may be viewed as relaxing (yoga, meditation), pampering (massage, facial, movie) or a social outlet (date night, catching up with friends).
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Many teachers report having insomnia at some time throughout their career. Insomnia is the experience of difficulty getting to or staying asleep, and the subsequent sleep deprivation that results can further add to the stress a teacher already experiences.
When someone finds it difficult to sleep, they often also experience a degree of anxiety and/or stress. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘fight and flight’ response. The body changes that occur during the flight and fight response include an increase in heart rate, tense muscles, increased speed of thoughts and feeling jumpy/jittery. If these bodily changes become a pattern or habitual response to stress, it can prove more and more difficult for a person to recognise the signs of its onset. An accurate predictor of a switched on ‘fight and flight’ is when the brain feels like it is ‘active and on alert’.