how to stay healthy teaching english online

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Whether you’ve been teaching online for years or you’ve recently switched to virtual learning, we’re all feeling the effects of our new environment. Online teaching means many more hours on the computer and a totally new schedule for teachers. This post is packed with tips for how to stay healthy while teaching online!

This post was written by online teacher and blogger, Whitney Reynolds from

staying healthy while teaching online

Whitney Reynolds

Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Creator of MoonWandering

Whitney Reynolds is a world-traveling yoga and meditation teacher. She began teaching VIPKID in 2018 to supplement her income while building her yoga and meditation website, Moon Wandering. In May of 2020, she started teaching yoga and mindfulness on Outschool. Learn more about what Whitney does in this post!

Teaching In A Brick and Mortar Classroom vs. An Online Classroom

When I was teaching in a ‘brick and mortar’ classroom, I would hear about all these health concerns that people were experiencing from working from a computer. I remember thinking, “At least, I spend most of my days standing and walking around.” To me, the physical activity involved with teaching was one of the perks of the job!

But now, teachers are glued to our computers like the rest of the world and we’re feeling it! The neck pain. The shoulder tightness. The eye strain. 

For those of us who have switched fully to online teaching, our days also look a bit different than they used to. We now have more flexibility in our schedules. The commute is gone. We may or may not need to wear “real” pants. 

Instead of getting to work at the break of dawn to print copies, while occasionally taking a sip of cold coffee that we forgot we even had, teachers are arranging back-to-back zoom meetings like no one’s business.

We work hard to provide the best experience possible for our students. Even if that means checking emails at 10 pm, or skipping lunch, or not getting up from the desk for 10 hours straight. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

When a teacher sets healthy boundaries, it sets a positive example for the young people in our care. This is true in the online space just as it is in a physical classroom. As Dr. Haim Ginott taught, We are the weather. We set the climate for each class based on our tone of voice, word choice, and our example.

Healthy Teacher Tips for Online Learning Success

In the digital age, we owe it to ourselves and our students to demonstrate positive habits around screen time, physical activity, and health. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they should be symbiotic.

Luckily, there are reasonable solutions to improve time management, reduce stress and eye strain, work in more comfortable positions, and find the best healthy snacks for teachers.

This article will offer yoga for teachers, mindfulness for teachers, as well as some practical health tips for teachers working from home. These simple shifts can be slipped into those moments between classes or before meetings to improve circulation, posture, work-life balance, and overall wellbeing. Let’s get into it.

Yoga For Teachers

The following yoga poses have been curated to help teachers show up online as their best, most radiant selves. Neck pain, swollen ankles, and shoulder tightness are not a part of the picture. 

Make a commitment to yourself to stand up and move around at least once every hour. You can set a reminder on your phone, measure time by your number of classes, or however you want to do it. 

Stay up and move around for at least 5 minutes. During that time, you can try some of these awesome yoga poses. 

Four yoga posts for online teachers that target the neck and shoulders: child's pose, cow pose, cat pose, thread the needle
Four yoga poses that target the lower back and hips: legs up the wall, resting pigeon, number 4 stretch, and happy baby

There are many more yoga poses that can help combat poor posture, improve circulation, and reduce pain or tightness in the body. I encourage you to give these poses a try as a start. You can always add more to your “yoga toolkit” later.

Try taking ‘Thread the Needle Pose’ for a minute on each side between classes. Walk your legs up the wall for ten minutes after your last meeting of the day. When you care for your body, your body will respond. And you may be motivated to extend this feeling into other aspects of your wellbeing. 

Mindfulness For Teachers

“Taking time to put on your own oxygen mask before tending to the care of others” is a great metaphor for why teachers should be practicing mindfulness.

Just like the Haim Ginott quote suggests, as teachers, we are the ones who set the tone for the day. We affect the lives of those we teach. And, because of that, the mindset in which we approach our jobs should be of compassion, empathy, understanding, and motivation to make a positive difference.

With everything going on, it’s easy to lose sight of those values. That’s why we really need to prioritize our mental wellbeing before tending to those in our care. Mindfulness can be the oxygen mask needed to take a few breaths before diving into another class. It can be a gentle reminder of why you’re in this field in the first place. 


There are many different types of grounding practices that one can do to bring yourself more in alignment with the present moment.

One way to do this is to feel the chair under you and the weight of your body and legs pressing down onto it. Focus all your attention on the present sensations.

Or, try holding a mug of tea in both hands and feel its warmth. Breathing in the smell of it and taking the time to sip it slowly. Enjoy each moment. 

Intentional Breathing

Intentional breathing is another mindfulness practice that deserves recognition for its supremely potent connection to both the body and the present moment.

Here is a very helpful article from that breaks down step-by-step how to fight stress with intentional breathing.  


Inviting more energy of loving-kindness into our lives is really important as a teacher. To echo what I said earlier in this article, we are role models for those in our care, and in order to show up as empathetic, caring, and supportive educators, we have to have compassion.

Loving-Kindness meditation often called Metta, is a very powerful meditation practice that promotes feelings of oneness and compassion for all beings on earth.

I have published a guided meditation to practice this technique on Insight Timer. This is a free resource for you to access at any time you want to improve your connection to others.  

Mindfulness for teachers can be incredibly simple. It doesn’t cost anything, but it pays riches in comfort, stability, and peace of mind. You can adopt these practices into small segments of your day.

It doesn’t take a lot to get started, but the key is to stick with it. Let them be your anchor and over time, you will notice a difference in your thought patterns and interactions with other people. 


Healthy Teacher Snacks

In a world where we are always strapped for time, eating nutrition-rich foods can seem increasingly time-consuming. After all, it’s always easier to reach for the potato chips instead of the fresh sliced veggies, right?

But recently a group of online teachers shared what easy, low-prep but nutritious snacks they enjoy between classes.

Here are a few of the responses.

  • Dried mango
  • Yogurt
  • Granola
  • Hummus
  • Fresh fruit
  • Sliced veggies (prepped in advance)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Apples
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Protein Bar
  • Cucumber with a little ‘low-fat laughing cow’ cheese and ‘everything but the bagel’ seasoning
  • Lots of water
  • Cheese cubes and dried fruit
  • Gogurt, granola, and mini chocolate chips all mixed together
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Black grapes, thoroughly chilled
  • Mashed banana, peanut butter, oats, and dark chocolate cookies
  • Protein-energy bars
  • Raw almonds
  • A BIG bottle of water to balance coffee intake
  • Coconut yogurt with maple granola and blueberries
  • Vegan beef jerky 
  • Peanut Butter
  • Protein balls (homemade)
  • Egg bites that are easy to warm up when I’m in a rush
  • Hummus with carrot chips
  • Pistachios
  • Olives
  • Seaweed

I know everyone and their mother suggests meal prepping to help make healthier food choices, but it’s so true. Chopping some cucumber and carrots on a day before your work week begins, makes eating healthy teacher snacks so much easier to accomplish. 

I’ve been a vegetarian for years, but I used to love to snack on beef jerky because of the combination of its savory flavor with low-calorie and high protein nutritional benefits. Recently, I found a company called Noble Jerkey that has perfected the art of vegan jerky!

I find it’s much easier to make healthier choices when you stay stocked up on low-prep or no-prep options. Instead of chips, swap in seaweed or carrots with hummus. Instead of cookies, swap in a protein bar! These are easy switches that will leave you feeling more energized throughout the day. 

Three bowls of berries, cucumbers, sliced carrots and peppers make great healthy teacher snacks

Time Management Tips

One of the responses from the teachers in the wellness group said, “I rarely snack between classes. Who has the time?” And I really felt that.

After working for VIPKID for so long, I got used to only having five minutes between classes. In Southeast Asia, I would use those minutes to stretch and do yoga poses to counteract sitting. While traveling in Europe, I used those minutes to snack. In North America, I used those minutes to fill in my feedback as fast as possible before the next class. 

Of those choices, the latter made me feel more irritable before my next class. I often felt rushed to get through the content, but moreover, that energy would carry onward through the rest of my day too.

My number one tip for time management is: Use Your Time Wisely.

When you use your time wisely, you feel empowered by your own choices and proud of yourself. You do it more often and it becomes a habit. 

Pro Tip: If you have the flexibility to schedule 10 minutes between your classes, that’s even better. I started doing this when I started working for Outschool and it has been the biggest game-changer for me. 

Here are a few other helpful tips for time management:

Know yourself and respect your own boundaries.

What is an overload for some teachers, may not be for you. But before taking on any more classes or adding more responsibility to your schedule, consider whether the workload will be too heavy.

Be aware of your own personal work capacity and set boundaries to keep yourself from overbooking your schedule.

Reserve at least one day a week with no meetings.

It may be tempting to schedule one little meeting on your “off” day but I have personally self-sabotaged myself in this area and I do not recommend it. Strive for at least one day in the week that is completely work-free.

Two days would be best, but not all of us have that luxury.  Be careful about taking appointments on your “off” day as it is likely to leave you feeling drained of personal energy with no time to recuperate. 

Use block scheduling to stay focused.

This is a simple technique in concept, but sometimes difficult to stick to. I find that using iCal, I am able to schedule large chunks of time throughout my day for various tasks. For example, I schedule all of my face-to-face meetings in two segments; morning and afternoon. The middle part of the day I split with admin tasks and personal time.

You can even set notifications to remind you of when the next segment is about to start. This allows you to easily roll through the most important parts of your day with less decision-making power in the process. 

Audit your time for one week.

This is an exercise I learned from the teacher’s wellness group on Outschool and it has served beneficial in more ways than one. All you have to do is print one of these sheets for each day of the week, and at the end of each day, fill in the wheel according to your activities throughout the day. 

At the end of the week, lay out all the pages and add up the time you spent in each section. Getting a general overview of where your time is going in this visual format is eye-opening.

If there are certain areas you can improve, for example, getting proper sleep, you can easily see where you are lacking and motivate yourself to make subtle changes that last. 

Home Office Ergonomics

Finally, we’ll focus on a few key products that will make a significant impact on your well-being as an online teacher working from home. I’ll preface this section by admitting to some of the terrible ways I’ve set up my classroom.

For those of you that do not know, I taught VIPKID for 2+ years while traveling through Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America.

I always insisted on taking the ‘bare minimum’ amount of online teaching props to reduce the weight of my backpack. As a result, I taught over 1000 classes with nothing more than my laptop, headphones, a sheet of fabric background, and a few laminated sheets of paper/cutouts. 

To set up my ‘classroom,’ I would precariously stack books, trash cans, tissue boxes, or whatever was lying around to line up my camera with my sheet of fabric. 

Photo from Switzerland Housesit in October 2019

This often left me sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor, against a wall, with a pillow under my toosh for 3-4 hours at a time. As a housesitter and frequent traveler, I knew I wouldn’t always have an office to work in.

But, my life changed when I bought my Nextand, blue-light blocking glasses, and a separate keyboard and mouse. 


The Nextstand is a little wonder that makes all the difference when aligning your eyesight to your laptop. I didn’t realize it made such a significant impact until after I started using it.

My neck pain started to dissipate and because of that, I can’t recommend it enough. It also folds up super small, so it doesn’t take up much room in your bag if you are a traveling teacher. 

Bluetooth Keyboard And Mouse

Once you invest in the Nextand (or something similar) you might want to grab a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to help your arms and shoulders sit in a more natural position.

You don’t want to be reaching up to the laptop’s keyboard now that it’s elevated by your new stand. The same thing goes for the mouse. Bye-bye trackpad and wrist pain. 

Blue-Light Blocking Glasses

I’ll be honest, I thought these were a hoax at first. But after using them I noticed a significant decline in my eye strain and subsequent headaches. This particular brand is super comfortable and lightweight. I often forget that I’m wearing them after my work for the day is finished. 

Final Thoughts About Staying Healthy While Teaching Online

Nowadays, teachers are adjusting to the online learning environment and to spending significantly more time in front of the computer. I hope these tips will help you on your journey to balance and wellness as an online teacher.

Avoid overscheduling yourself and try to stick to healthy snacks between classes. Be sure to get plenty of exercise throughout the day and try out yoga posts to relieve some of the pain caused by more computer time.

Mindfulness techniques can be used to bring yourself back to the present moment and reconnect with your passion for teaching.

As educators, the energy we bring to the classroom matters. So, please, remember to put your own oxygen mask on first, before offering to help others.

What other health tips have served you as an online teacher? I’d love to hear them in the comments. 

staying healthy while teaching online

Whitney Reynolds

Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Creator of MoonWandering

Whitney Reynolds is a world-traveling yoga and meditation teacher. She began teaching VIPKID in 2018 to supplement her income while building her yoga and meditation website, Moon Wandering. In May of 2020, she started teaching yoga and mindfulness on Outschool. Learn more about what Whitney does in this post!

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About the Author

Hi! I'm Nic. Let's chat about remote work and ways to incorporate more travel into your life. Whether you're here to find an online job or need some tips for planning your next trip, I've got you covered! More about me

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