Getting sick. Ugh. The only good part of being sick is you can watch endless episodes of your favorite show while wallowing in your misery on the couch at home.
Otherwise, it’s the nemesis of every teacher. Why? Because it’s more of a pain to catch up on life than it is to simply have a normal day.
The flu is running rampant this year. Twenty percent of my students canceled last week from either being sick or having a family member sick (in which case they didn’t want to spread it around-thank you!).
Yes, getting sick as a teacher is often the result of exposure to so many students every week. More so than that, though, I’m more likely to get sick when I’ve not been taking care of myself. That could be lack of sleep, stress, or getting out of the habit of physical activity and/or taking daily supplements.
Today I want to share a few ways we can be proactive in our studios and with our personal health – especially during the winter months when we’re on high “germ alert.”
*Disclaimer: All advice and opinions posted here are simply from my own experiences. I am not a health professional nor do I claim to be.
Keep your studio and teaching area clean. Regularly clean areas touched by students including door handles, computer keyboard and mouse, and of course the bathroom.
I’ve never had luck with remembering to enforce this, but having students wash their hands with soap and water before coming to the piano would be ideal.
Avoid hand sanitizer as it has been proven to be less effective than good old soap. I’ve also been told (by my piano tuner) that hands covered in hand sanitizer could possibly cause cracks in the piano key surface. The same goes for antibacterial wipes.
Keep it simple. Stash a cloth nearby and regularly wipe down the piano keys. A lightly sprayed cotton cloth with a vinegar-water mixture would suffice or try a cleaning cloth such as the Guardsman dusting cloth.
The Guardsman cloth is a wonderful, gentle cloth that won’t scratch your piano and has a very lightly tacky surface that is brilliant at collecting dust. Find them at your local hardware.
You could even consider using the Norwex Antimicrobial Window Polishing Cloth for the keys but I would not recommend using it or any of the other Norwex rags on the body of the piano as I would be afraid their material might scratch the surface.
Have you ever heard of a Himalayan Salt Lamp? Lit up, the salt lamp is supposed to help clean and deodorize the air. Plus it helps to add a nice ambiance similar to the warm glow of a candle.
Consider using oils Essential Oils such as Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Ravens, and Thieves. These particular oils are said to help disinfect the air and support the respiratory and immune systems.
They’re also a wonderful way to keep the air in your studio smelling fresh.
Use a diffuser to diffuse the oils into the air. You can also use them topically. (Be safe and read up on them before doing so!)
When I feel a cold coming on I immediately begin rubbing a couple of drops of Thieves on the bottom of my feet and between my toes at night. I swear, every time I do that, I never get sick!
There are lots of Thieves products, including hand soap, which would be great in a studio bathroom, and a spray that I use when I have a sore throat that seems to zap it away.
Low humidity environments can make us more prone to sickness. It affects our skin, sinuses, and respiratory tracts. Ever wake up in the winter with a bloody nose? That’s always my first clue that it’s time to break out the humidifier.
Moisture in the Air
Humidifiers can help pump moisture into the air and maintain healthy levels of humidity – especially when the temperature outside drops below freezing.
A simple warm-mist vaporizer is an easy choice and can easily cover the area of a small room. You can even get whole-home humidifiers.
Your studio space especially needs a consistent level of humidity maintained. Your instruments – and especially acoustic ones – don’t like dry air. Try to maintain at least 30-40% moisture. If your windows start to develop condensation then it’s too high. Buy a simple humidity gauge to monitor the levels of moisture in the air.
Moisture in the Body
Not only does the air need proper moisture but so do our bodies. Always be sure and stay properly hydrated. When I’m teaching I get especially thirst in the winter due to the drier air. Keep a bottle of water near you at all times.
Did you know that it’s also important to keep your nasal passages hydrated? Years ago, a doctor introduced me to saline nasal spray. This simple saline spray helps keep the nasal passages moist; no more bloody noses in the dead of winter! We keep a bottle by our bed and spray almost every night in the winter.
Healthy EAting and Supplements
It’s no surprise that adding more fruits and vegetables and cutting down on sugar (at a minimum) have added health benefits.
It can be very hard during busy seasons of life to eat healthy, though, especially when we have to eat out.
Here are a few of my favorite healthy go-to eats in the fast-food arena. (Keep in mind I’m from a small town so I’m only pulling from the basic places.) We don’t have places like Chipotle or Chicken Filet. 🙁
- Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad
- Baked Potato with Broccoli and Chili
- Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Chopped Salads (rotisserie chicken is my favorite)
- Various Soups (at our Subway, we can add a “child-size” sandwich to a soup)
- Veggie Sub
- Signature McWraps or Snack Wraps with Grilled Chicken
Anytime I get sick, the one thing I always notice is that at that moment in time I had gotten away from taking any kind of multivitamins.
If you don’t already, consider adding a daily multivitamin at a minimum. I’m currently taking Juice Plus+ and have been happy with it thus far. There are a plethora of good vitamin supplements out there to choose from. Check with your health provider or local herb shop for supplement suggestions.
When you feel something coming on, boost your intake by adding Vitamin C, Echinacea, or other good immune-boosting supplements.
Get your body moving. As piano teachers especially it’s easy to become quite immobile. We sit for hours at the piano and computer.
Even if you don’t have an intense exercise routine, find ways to be active. Maybe it’s playing Pickle Ball twice a week at your local gym, going on a long walk after dinner, or doing a stretching routing when you rise and before you go to bed.
I go in phases. One year I was big into cycling class, the next year it was the Venus Factor weight-lifting routine, another year it was the 21-Day Fix routine from Beachbody.
As a person who isn’t big into highly athletic things or exercise routines, this past year, I’ve really been loving the program called Essentrics/Classical Stretch. These 23-minute-long videos from Miranda Esmonde-White have been featured on PBS for years. She has over 10 seasons of videos and every season has 30 videos.
For $15/month, I pay for the Essentrics TV Streaming which gives me access to every single video in the program. Some libraries carry their DVDs so you may be able to check them out from your library!
What I especially love about the program is how much the focus is on whole-body health, strength, flexibility, and toning. She educates you on the body and how it moves during the videos.
A Few More “Under-the Weather” Tips
Here are a few more miscellaneous tips finals for staying healthy in the winter season.
- Add more tea such as Throat Coat to your daily drinks.
- Hot lemon water with honey.
- In order to up my honey intake when sick, I always eat whole-grain toast with honey every morning when I’m feeling under the weather.
- Take a trip to the chiropractor.
- Plenty of rest
- Propping my head up on an extra pillow while sleeping to allow sinus to drain (sorry, gross, I know but it’s life 🙂
- A few ounces of whiskey before bed (seriously, it works – burns it right out of me! 😉)
What’s your cold-care routine? Do you have any additional tips for keeping yourself healthy as a teacher?
I love Classical Stretch! I’m glad you do too. I try to do a workout 5 times a week. Super beneficial for mobility. She often includes finger exercises to help or prevent arthritis 🙂
Yes, she’s wonderful!