As a teacher, it’s essential to take care of yourself, so you can reduce the risk of burnout and stress. It’s easy to get caught up in the needs of your students, but you need to take care of yourself to help them in the best way possible.
When you’re feeling burned out or stressed, it’s tough to be the best educator you can be. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 30 teacher self care ideas. These activities will help you reduce teacher stress and keep your compassion fatigue at bay.
What causes teacher burnout?
As someone who has worked alongside teachers, educators, and administrators for over 10 years in the special needs field, I’ve seen firsthand how teacher burnout can affect teachers and their students.
Some common causes of teacher burnout include long hours, high demands, a lack of support from administrators or colleagues, and feeling like there’s never enough time to prepare for your classroom, among other reasons.
Self-Care Practices for Teachers
1. Cuddle with your pet: Not only does this improve your emotional health, but it can also help you de-stress and relax.
2. Read a book: Make a commitment to join a book club for teachers during the school year. There’s always a good book you still need to read, so find a few that interest you and spend a little time reading a few pages every day!
3. Do something creative: One of the best things you can do is pick up an art or craft project that you enjoy. Whether it’s painting, calligraphy, or cooking, these hobbies can help you unwind when faced with common challenges at work.
4. Journal: Take a break from your lesson plans and give your mind a break with written reflection prompts. Journaling can help you process your thoughts and feelings, and it’s a great way to subtly introduce a self-care plan.
5. Listen to music: Not just any kind of music, but listen to songs that really speaks to you and makes you feel confident. Have a dance party break in your car or living room, and don’t stop moving until the song is over!
6. Do a motivating workout: It’s a good thing that you have opportunities to improve your physical health because that will make you feel better overall. Find a in person workout or online yoga class that makes you focus on your health.
7. Spend time with your family: Set boundaries with work and spend intentional time with your family members. They probably wish they had spent more time with you.
8. Call your best friend: If you have difficulty opening up to anyone at your school, reach out to your best friend or loved one. These relationships are essential for your overall well-being, so don’t neglect them!
9. Take a nap: Sometimes, our best self appears fresh from a rest. We need to do these more as an adult.
10. Run a relaxing bath or shower: Run a bubble bath, light a candle and create a wellness bath experience with all your favorite goodies.
11. Enroll in group therapy: Learning how to set healthy boundaries is better taught in sessions with other educators. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, join a teacher support group.
12. Read motivational quotes on Pinterest: Schedule time to take out your phone and create a Pinterest board full of self-care quotes to refer to when faced with challenging times at work.
13. Do one minute meditations: Work these into your daily routine. There are a ton of helpful mindfulness meditation podcasts to check out that offer support and good self-care tips. Your mindfulness practice will improve with commitment.
14. Review your vision board: Being a teacher is not solely your identity, so review those vision goals you set to accomplish in your personal life because those are equally important.
15. Declutter a small space: After completing your lesson prep, you should organize a space in your room before an upcoming holiday break. It can help improve your energy levels, knowing that you know where everything is in your room.
Self-Care Activities for Teachers
16. Do something that will make tomorrow easier: Do you have any upcoming parent-teacher conferences? You may need to prep some materials for those meetings. Whatever it is, do something today that will help run tomorrow more smoothly.
17. Order a teacher care crate: Teacher Care Crate is a monthly subscription box containing various teacher-approved self-care products and activities designed to promote intentional self-care to educators throughout the school year.
18. Leave school campus at a set time: Stress levels are constantly being chaotically managed in a teacher’s life. So outside of obligatory meetings, do your best to leave school by a designated time each day.
19. Keep your desk tidy: One of the positive things that reap results from keeping a teacher’s desk neat and tidy is less stress. So, at the end of the school day, once a week, take a few moments to declutter your workspace.
20. Stay hydrated while teaching: As if the struggle to get everything done wasn’t enough, dehydration can be a teacher’s worst enemy. Make a gallon of infused water at the start of the week to keep you hydrated throughout your long days in the classroom.
21. Eat well: Open up a window in your room to get some fresh air and make it a point to pack some of the most delicious meals you’ll be counting down the hours to eat.
22. Avoid negative Nancy’s in the teacher’s break room: Being in a teaching profession is hard work as it is, so don’t add to your teacher’s stress by surrounding yourself with people that complain about everything under the sun like their student’s parents, administrators, and other teachers.
Avoid them like the plague and seek work relationships with those that get you excited to come to work.
23. Minimize checking your email when you’re home: Taking good care of yourself includes minimizing the time spent checking email and other teacher-related notifications when you’re off school property.
24. Say no more: Self-care matters here, too, so make sure you’re aware of your needs and boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no to things that aren’t necessary or that result in you taking on more work.
25. Disconnect from technology at a specific time: Make the choice to reduce screen time; it is vital to a healthy work-life balance. Setting a time each day to say goodbye to technology can make all the difference with your loved ones.
26. Get creative with your classroom: Take professional development courses to address your student’s needs, explore teacher resources like teacher books and blogs, and get creative with fun teacher activities in your classroom.
27. Go to the gym before work: Ignite a new self-care routine by spending time at the gym before starting your work day. Not only will you feel energized and refreshed, but having a pre-work workout routine can be a great way to stay on top of teacher stress.
28. Schedule time for traveling: While prioritizing the needs of others is admirable, it can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Take PTO regularly without feeling obligated to justify the need for it.
29. Learn trending dance moves from your students: The best gift you can give to your students is learning more about their interests and passions. If your students are into dancing, learn some of their favorite TikTok trending dances.
30. Initiate a self-care bulletin board with your neighboring teachers: Being in one of the most stressful occupations doesn’t have to mean being alone in your teacher burnout. Create a teacher self-care bulletin board with your colleagues and share self-care ideas, positive affirmations, self-care podcasts, teacher support resources, and more.
With your teacher community by your side, you’ll be able to manage your work stress more effectively.