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Positive Changes in the New Year

January 17, 2024

Positive Changes in the New Year

The AFT provides staff with monthly health and wellness tips, and now they are sharing them with the Share My Lesson community too! January's issue offers suggestions for adventurous activities, meal planning, and managing feelings of being overwhelmed.


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New Year, New Adventures

When it comes to physical activity, which appeals more to you: Walking on a treadmill? Or on a dirt path? Using the rowing machine? Or paddling a kayak down the river?

Physical activity is more than exercise, it’s your time to move your body, refresh your spirit, and let your inner child go out to play!

Here are a few adventurous activities to consider as alternatives to ordinary exercise:

Mountain biking will have you whizzing up and down trails and kicking up dust as you tackle terrain. It’s a low impact sport that won’t wear on your joints like running, and there are trails to suit all fitness levels.

Rock climbing increases cardio endurance, upper-body and core strength, and flexibility. There are indoor rock climbing facilities that are perfect for beginners to tackle.

Sledding or snowboarding in the winter can be fun and the walk back up the hill can be more rewarding than a stair climber machine.

Skiing can provide a rush, with wind in your face and snow moving briskly beneath your skis. Downhill or cross country skiing offers a cardiovascular work-out and improves balance and range of motion.

Hiking is the ultimate back to nature activity. There’s no better way to fully experience a landscape than by trekking through it.

Spectacular natural settings tend to accompany adventure activities and spending time outdoors and in nature is great for your physical and mental health

Plan Ahead Eating

Planning meals and snacks ahead of time helps you stick to your goals, save money and reduce stress by putting you in control of day-to-day life.

1. Look at your calendar. Think about the week ahead and plan your meals and snacks around your work obligations, social schedule and other commitments.

2. Check your pantry/freezer. Doing this helps avoid buying ingredients you already have.

3. Choose recipes. Select recipes with at least two similar ingredients. Aim for fish at least twice a week. Plan vegetable and whole grain side dishes based on entrees.

4. Make a grocery list. Being organized and having a list maximizes your time at the store and your budget.

Utilize the Weekly Meal Planner & Shopping List Template provided below or make your own.

Meal planning worksheet

Recipe of the Month

Acai bowl

Acai Bowl with Pomegranate and Coconut

1 medium, frozen banana
1 packet acai puree, unsweetened
1 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons flaked coconut
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Place frozen banana, acai packet and almond milk in blender and puree until creamy. Pour into a bowl and top with remaining ingredients.


When we have too many demands it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, which can make it harder to function. Work, personal and family needs can lead to an ever-growing to-do list that can feel like trying to dig out of a hole that keeps getting deeper. The brain can react to overwhelm with fear, of scarcity of time, energy, or resources. It may also be felt as a threat of failing, disappointing others, and feeling like we are not doing enough.

Effects of overwhelm can range from forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, or thinking logically to a racing mind with an inability to problem solve. When responsibilities are piling up, instead of succumbing to overload, try these key strategies to manage the feelings:

Ground yourself with your senses in the present moment using the 5-4-3-2-1 technique:
5 - Look around and name five things you can see.
4 - Listen and name four things you can hear.
3 - Notice 3 things you can touch.
2 - Breathe in and recognize two smells.
1 - Name something you can taste, like a sip of cold water.

Prioritize by moving everything that should be done down the list and stick to the things that need to get done now.

Do one thing at a time. Stop multitasking.

Join the Health & Wellness Community

We are bringing fitness instructors, social-emotional and mental health leaders, and nutritionists together so we can collectively “workout” and de-stress our bodies and our minds. 

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The AFT was formed by teachers more than 100 years ago and is now a 1.7 million-member union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are... See More

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