Eye-Palming For Improving Teacher Wellbeing
If you see a teacher with their head in their hands at their desk all may not be as bad as it seems they may be palming! Teaching is widely recognised as a demanding, high-stress profession. Heavy workloads, time pressures, all contribute to teacher stress and burnout. This not only impacts teacher health and wellbeing but also teaching quality and student outcomes. Therefore, supporting teacher wellbeing is crucial. While self-care staples like meditation and deep breathing are beneficial, the simple relaxation technique of palming offers teachers an easy yet powerful way to alleviate stress during the hectic school day. Also known as eye-yoga!
Palming involves covering the eyes with the palms, blocking out external light. It was popularised in the early 1900s by ophthalmologist William Bates as a way to give strained eyes a break. The darkness allows the visual system to rest while the warmth of the hands has a soothing effect. Modern research confirms the calming benefits of palming. Studies show it effectively reduces muscle tension, mental stress, headache pain and eyestrain.
Eye Palming Benefits for Teachers
Teaching involves significant visual demands like reading, writing on boards, using computers and projectors/IWB. The average teacher spends over 8 hours a day under bright fluorescent lights, even though we know they are appalling for autistic children. This continuous visual strain, coupled with mental exertion, contributes greatly to teacher stress. Even brief periods of palming offer benefits:
- Alleviates eye fatigue from constant use and harsh lighting
- Provides a mental break from visual stimuli
- Relaxes tense facial and shoulder muscles
- Reduces headaches triggered by prolonged intense focus
- Quiets the mind, enhancing emotional regulation
Just 5-10 minutes of daily palming builds long-term resilience against burnout.
Integrating Palming Breaks into your Timetable
Despite packed schedules, teachers can easily integrate brief palming sessions:
- Upon arrival, before facing the lights and tasks of the day
- Between classes or during lunch for an instant recharge
- Mid-afternoon when energy typically dips
- Just before dismissal to transition out of teacher mode
Even 20-60 seconds of palming helps restore. Teachers can palm seated at desks or in any quiet space. Benefits accumulate with regular practice.
Follow these simple steps for making the most of palming as a quick and simple wellbeing intervention:
- Sit comfortably with back unsupported and feet flat to allow full breathing.
- Rub palms together vigorously to generate warmth.
- Cover eyes with palms, placing overlapping pinky fingers at bridge of nose to block light.
- Relax shoulders and breathe deeply. Visualise dark, calming scenes.
- Hold palms in place for up to 5 minutes, focusing on sensations.
- Lower hands slowly and gently open eyes.
Palming requires no special skills or training, just the dedication to prioritise self-care. Implementing brief palming sessions helps teachers build resilience against stress while role modelling important wellness practices. By caring for their own wellbeing, teachers are better equipped to support student learning and model healthy coping skills. A simple wellness habit like palming allows teachers to thrive amidst daily demands.