I love teaching with VIPKid! I love watching my students learn, making money from home, and spending time with my favorite regulars.
But even good things have down sides. And chances are, if you’ve been teaching online for any length of time, you’ve noticed some negative physical side effects…especially if you haven’t been practicing VIPKid teacher self care.
I recently polled my amazing VIPKid Teacher Tips Facebook Group members to see what kind of issues they had noticed since they began teaching with VIPKid.
And the most common problems were headaches, back or neck pain, weight gain, and exhaustion.
You see, our bodies are amazing machines!! But just like any machine, we have to care for them. In other words, we can’t just keep pushing our bodies to the limit without something malfunctioning.
As teachers, we tend to put our needs on the back burner while we attend to the needs of others. Unfortunately, this can only last so long before our needs become glaringly obvious…to the tune of health issues.
So we’re going to look at some of the most common enemies of good health as online teachers, tips to remedy these problems, and how to practice VIPKid teacher self care.
Enemies of Good Health for Online Teachers
1. Sitting in One Position for Hours
As online teachers, we’re “stuck” in one place while teaching because our students can’t see us if we are outside of the camera frame.
When I was in the classroom, I rarely sat down. I was moving around the room checking on my students and walking while teaching. But now, it’s just easier to pull up a chair and stay in one place.
Unfortunately, the flip side to that is the longer we stay sedentary, the less desire we have to be physically active.
2. Bad Posture
If I know anything after teaching with VIPKid and blogging for the last several years, it’s that the more tired I get, the worse my posture gets.
And if you teach with VIPKid full-time, I know this is an issue for you as well.
Our body naturally starts to ache when we stay in one position for too long. And once we start aching, we compensate for that pain by relaxing our stomach and our back, which leads to TERRIBLE posture.
The longer we do this, the more we slump. And over time, we find ourselves slouched more times than not.
Common VIPKid Teacher Ailments
Now before I start sharing tips, I have to make an obligatory disclaimer.
I am NOT a doctor and I don’t have a medical background. I’m simply sharing some of the most common issues online teachers face and suggestions that you can try to help alleviate some of your discomfort.
You should always consult your doctor before you try anything new or if you have any major health concerns.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in!
The most common culprit of headaches is simply staring at a computer screen too long. I noticed this in my own life after teaching online in the mornings and then working at a computer until 4:00 pm.
The headaches were real and they were daily! So I started researching some ways to help with my headaches and I learned about blue light glasses.
Blue Light Glasses
Blue light glasses work by filtering out the blue light that is emitted from computer and mobile screens. This blue light is what makes our eyes tired, and that’s why when you’re wearing them and take a selfie you see a “blue-ish/purple-ish” reflection in your glasses.
There are TONS of adorable blue light glasses available on Amazon. (And of course, I had to share some of my favorites…but only those with excellent reviews!!)
Unfortunately, because I wear prescription glasses, I didn’t think blue light glasses were an option for me…until I discovered that the company that I buy my glasses from has a blue light “coating” or filter that can be added to your lenses!
This was a game-changer for me.
Check with your glasses provider to see if they have this option. If not, consider trying contact lenses and then wearing the regular blue light glasses while teaching.
We all know about the importance of lighting in our classrooms, but all of that light shining into our eyes for multiple classes can cause us pain.
1. Lower Computer Screen Lighting
First, turn down the lighting on your computer screen this will decrease the amount of light shining directly into your eyes while you teach. Sometimes just moving it down one or two notches helps your eyes relax a bit.
2. Use Night Mode
When you’re in your classroom on the VIPKid app, turn on night mode. This makes the background black, which reduces eye strain tremendously!
To switch to night mode, open your classroom and navigate to the right-hand side of your screen. Then, click the icon that looks like a lampshade with a light bulb. This will switch your classroom from the default mode into night mode.
3. Remove Harsh Light
Remove any fluorescent lighting and replace with bulbs that mimic natural light or photography style lighting. You can even go so far as to purchase light diffusers for your classroom, but they take a up a lot of space.
Purchasing a ring light is a good alternative because you can adjust the brightness at the touch of a button. You can even choose whether you want cooler or warmer lighting.
Quick Tips to Reduce Headaches:
- Wear blue light glasses
- Reduce the brightness on your computer screen
- Switch your classroom to night mode
- Use natural lighting bulbs (not fluorescent) or diffuse lighting
Back Pain or Neck Pain
Another extremely common problem that results from lack of VIPKid teacher self care is back pain and neck pain. This is usually caused by bad posture, but how can we fix that?
Adjust the Height of Everything
This may seem ridiculous, but adjusting the height of everything in your classroom may just solve your back and neck pain!
Start with the height of your chair and desk. Your chair and desk should be positioned so that you can comfortably reach your mouse and keyboard.
If you want to test this idea, set a timer for one minute and move your mouse around for the whole minute. When the timer goes off, see if your arm and shoulder automatically drop. If they do, then you need to adjust the height of your chair or desk.
You should be able to move your mouse around for an entire minute without feeling tension in your shoulder or arm. Try resting your forearm on your desk to provide your arm with stability.
Add a stool for your feet to create a more natural position for your lower body. When we adjust the height of our chairs to the perfect position, sometimes we create a problem for our legs. So adding a stool will not only add stability for your lower body, it will also immediately improve your posture.
Invest in a Supportive Chair
If you’re sitting on an unsupportive stool or a chair for extensive lengths of time, you will develop back pain and neck pain. To counteract this, you might need to invest in an office chair.
These can definitely get expensive, but the price of a chair is a lot cheaper than multiple visits to your primary care physician or chiropractor for pain.
When you’re considering a chair, think about the support that you need (neck, lumbar, extra cushioning) as well as the height of your desk. These factors will all affect which chair you will need and how much that chair will cost.
Here are some chairs that have fantastic reviews…
You can also check your local big box stores like Sam’s Club, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Target. They typically keep a couple of office chairs in stock and set up so that you can give them a try. IKEA is another budget-friendly option and they have a variety of styles from which to choose.
Ultimately, the perfect chair for you is one that will provide enough lumbar support and cushioning to be comfortable while also having an adjustable height to fit under your desk easily.
Check to make sure that you’re not tilted forward in your chair creating unnecessary pressure on your upper body. You should be able to sit back into your chair and let the chair position your body correctly.
Then adding a stool, that puts your feet and lower body into perfect alignment, will allow you to create the correct posture and remove the back and neck pain permanently.
Quick Tips to Ease Back & Neck Pain:
- Adjust the height of your computer
- Adjust the height of your chair
- Use a stool
- Find a supportive chair with lumbar support
- Check your posture
Gaining weight is rarely on our top ten list, but it seems to happen inevitably! And this is especially true when our job requires us to sit for long periods of time. Ultimately, our metabolism goes into a resting state, and that typically means imminent weight gain.
So how can we fight this?
While we can’t change the fact that we may have to sit for long periods of time, we can break up that long period of time by simply standing or walking around between classes.
If you feel extra ambitious, set a timer for one minute between your classes and do push ups, sit ups, or jog in place. (However, I want to reiterate that I am not a doctor and if you are unsure about adding these activities into your life, consult your doctor first!)
The key is to get your body into a more active state by loosening up your muscles and simply moving.
Have you ever taught your classes standing up? If not, you should try it!
Standing up gives you more mobility (especially for those lower level classes) and it also forces your body to “wake up.” This immediately moves you out of the completely sedentary category.
If standing up to teach every day is too much for you, try standing up one day a week. Then once you feel confident with that, try standing up every other day during your classes.
The whole point is to force you to be more active even if it starts with simply standing up for short periods of time.
Invest in a Standing Desk
If you really like the idea of standing up but you want to have the option to sit as needed, consider investing in a standing desk.
The purpose of a standing desk is to give you the flexibility to stand or sit with the simple push of a button or lever. Unfortunately, convenience like that typically comes with a hefty price tag.
And while you can spend a lot if you choose to, there actually many budget-friendly standing desk options. Here are some of my favorites…and they have fantastic reviews!!
Add Exercise Equipment to Your Teaching Space
Now before you think I have lost my mind, I’m not talking about a full-size weight bench or elliptical machine. I’m referring to discreet exercise equipment that is designed to be used while working!
Did you even know there was such a thing?
It’s true!! You can find small stair-steppers and small stationary bikes designed to fit right beneath your desk. Here are some great options that would be great while sitting or to use at a standing desk!
Let me give you one word of advice about the exercise equipment.
I actually purchased a small stationary bike (not one of the ones I shared above) to use during my classes and while writing feedback.
Unfortunately, I made one small error in my calculations.
I knew it would fit under my desk, but I didn’t consider the extra “knee height” clearance I would need to keep from breaking my kneecaps. #exercisefail
Don’t be like Jennifer.
Make sure you account for your knees if you decide to purchase an under the desk option.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, the more we move (even when we’re tired), the better we feel! This will definitely make your sedentary nature a thing of the past!
Quick Tips to Decrease Weight Gain
- Move between your classes
- Teach standing up certain days of the week
- Invest in a standing desk or a convertible desk
- Get exercise equipment to use in your classroom
VIPKid Teacher Self Care Tips
VIPKid teacher self care is all about prevention and maintenance. We have to take good care of our bodies to ensure that they perform at their best.
If you’ve already started noticing negative side effects, try these tips…
- Experiencing headaches? Try using blue light glasses and turning down the brightness of the lighting in your teaching space.
- Noticing back or neck pain? Check to see that your body is in alignment, consider purchasing a more supportive chair, and adjust your posture.
- Weight gain and lack of energy? Make sure you get up and move, invest in a standing desk, or appropriately sized exercise equipment.
Whether you have been teaching for awhile or you’re just beginning your VIPKid teaching journey, be sure to implement these VIPKid teacher self care tips now so that you can prevent burnout from a job that can truly bless your family.