Teacher Life / Jul 17, 2023

Self-Care for Teachers PDF: 21 Mental Health Activities

Self-care for teachers pdf article- image of centered woman.

Greetings, teaching maestro, here for the Self-care For Teachers PDF? This is your future self writing you a quick note of gratitude for dedicating time to your mental health this year.

As the curtains rise on a new school year, it’s time to give your mental health the starring role it deserves. After all, every school is sure to zap your energy and joie de vivre at some point or another. 

So what can you do quickly to rest and reload for the action-packed school year ahead? 

Download the Self-care for Teachers PDF version!

  • An important caveat: For people with clinical anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, the below isn’t a replacement for therapy, medication or other professional interventions.
  • However, some research suggests they can be beneficial in addition to those services, and we hope that the Self-care For Teachers PDF works for you throughout the school year!

Quick Activities to Restore Your Teacher Mental Health (we said quick, not easy!)

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1. Track your gratitude and achievements

Start your journey to better mental health by keeping a journal. Each day, jot down three things you are grateful for and three accomplishments you achieved. This practice can shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life, fostering a sense of gratitude and fulfillment.

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2. Do Random Acts of Kindness

From complimenting a stranger on their haircut to surprising yourself by taking a new leisurely route home at the end of the workday. And hey, why not chat up the teacher who’s usually hidden under a pile of paperwork? Doing a variety of random acts of kindness can have longer-lasting effects on your happiness!

Want to do random acts of kindness for your students? Download our free Positive Notes to use with students and colleagues (another resource in addition to the Self-care For Teachers PDF,  our random act of kindness for the day)!

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3. Begin your day with a refreshing beverage

Kickstart your mornings with a cup of coffee or a soothing cup of green tea. Studies show that coffee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression (and you wonder why we all love Starbucks)! If you prefer to avoid caffeine, explore other good-for-you drinks to give yourself a pleasant boost.

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4. Plan a getaway (or a staycation somewhere else in town)

Take the time to plan a vacation or a getaway with friends. Having something exciting to look forward to can significantly enhance your overall happiness for up to eight weeks. The act of planning alone can bring you joy and anticipation.

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5. Work on your strengths

Engage in activities that showcase your strengths. By doing something you’re good at, you’ll build self-confidence. Once you’ve built up your confidence, challenge yourself by tackling more demanding tasks. This progression will help you grow both personally and professionally.

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6. Create a cool(er) sleep environment

Ensure you get a good night’s sleep by keeping your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining an optimal sleep temperature will promote restful and rejuvenating sleep, setting you up for a productive day ahead. Also, if you are typically a morning shower person, consider adding a quick lukewarm shower before bed– it can help to lower your body temperature when you get in bed!

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7. Take the first step toward improvement

Reflect on an area of your life that you’d like to improve. Break it down into actionable steps and take that first step towards progress. Remember, you don’t have to see the entire staircase; taking one step in the right direction is enough to make a positive change.

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8. Explore your creative side (you’re a teacher, so we KNOW you have to get creative!)

Feed your creative brain! Try new recipes, write silly poetry, paint your cat, or take up a Pinterest project or instrument. Research suggests that creative activities contribute to overall well-being. Find joy in exploring your artistic potential.

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9. Foster close relationships

Show love and appreciation to the important people in your life. Cultivating quality relationships is crucial for a happy and healthy life. Take the time to connect with loved ones and nurture those bonds. We know you know. Just saying, sometimes busy teachers have to schedule that time in with loved ones or it just doesn’t happen.

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10. Boost brainpower with dark chocolate

Indulge in a couple of pieces of dark chocolate every few days. The flavonoids, caffeine, and theobromine present in chocolate work together to enhance alertness and mental skills. Treat yourself while sharpening your mind.

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11. Share your story

If you have personal experience with mental illness or recovery, consider sharing your journey on social media platforms using hashtags like #mentalillnessfeelslike. By opening up, you can raise awareness, break the stigma, and connect with others who may be going through similar experiences. Just make sure you that if you do want to use social media in this way, that you have your account set to private or it can’t be easily identified as your account by your students.

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12. Find joy in the present

Take pleasure in the activities you already enjoy. Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the challenges in life but rather focusing on the positive aspects as much as possible. Soak up the joy in the little things and appreciate the present moment.

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13. Clear your mind with coloring

When feeling anxious, take a trip down memory lane and engage in coloring. Spend about 20 minutes coloring a geometric and intricate design. This activity can help calm your mind and provide a sense of relaxation. Explore the plethora of free printable coloring pages available online.

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14. Laugh it off

Laughter is an incredible stress reducer. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy show, or browse cute videos online. Embrace the power of laughter and let it alleviate your anxiety.

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15. Unplug from technology

We know the irony that you are reading this on technology. However, in general, take a break from your smartphone and disconnect from constant emails, alerts, and interruptions. Leave your phone at home for a day and engage in face-to-face interactions and fun activities with friends and loved ones. Embrace the freedom of being off the grid.

Once you go back to school, carry the spirit of your new tech boundaries with you. Set your tech availability with clear office hours and make them clear from the start of the year.

See how to set your office hours on your free ClassTag account. 


16. Dance your way through chores

Make household chores more enjoyable by dancing while you do them. Not only will you get your tasks done, but dancing also reduces stress levels and increases the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. Bonus points for pumping up that loud, feel-good music throughout the house!

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17. Embrace the power of yawning

Believe it or not, yawning has benefits beyond signaling tiredness. Research suggests that yawning helps cool the brain, improving alertness and mental efficiency. So go ahead and indulge in a good yawn when you need a mental boost.

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18. Relax with a warm bath

Unwind and relax by treating yourself to a warm bath once a week. Add Epsom salts for the extra soothe and to boost your magnesium levels. This calming practice can help replenish your energy and alleviate stress.

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19. Write it out

When something is bothering you, give yourself permission to let it all out ON PAPER. Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression and provide a cathartic release. Allow yourself the space to express your thoughts and emotions.

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20. Spend time with animals

Interacting with animals has proven mental health benefits. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol and boosts oxytocin, which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, consider spending time with a friend’s pet or volunteering at an animal shelter.

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21. Practice mindfulness

Embrace mindfulness by staying present in the moment. Mindfulness is about being fully engaged and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine to reduce stress and enhance your overall well-being.

Now that you have activities to incorporate daily into your routine, Learn to Prioritize Your Self-Care

Set Boundaries With Your Students, and Their Families

Establish clear boundaries for work and personal time. Create designated office hours for remote teaching and communicate your availability to students and parents. Designate specific times for responding to emails and requests, ensuring you protect your free time. 

Focus on what you CAN control

Shift your attention to what you have control over—your priorities, mindset, and self-care. Evaluate your news sources, take breaks from media exposure if needed, and engage in activities that make you feel safe and secure. Get involved in policy decisions and express your opinions to shape school plans.

Get To Moving

Teaching often involves being on your feet and active in the classroom. If your teaching has transitioned to virtual platforms, make an effort to incorporate movement breaks. Set reminders to stretch, walk around your home, or consider using a yoga ball or mini exercise bike to stay active during virtual teaching sessions.

Schedule Time to Connect

Maintain regular contact with friends and family. Social connections are vital during challenging times, and leaning on your support network can provide a sense of belonging and understanding. Reach out to colleagues, friends, or loved ones who offer support and validation. 

Remember that teacher still hidden under the stack of essays, marking away at a feverish pace? Schedule a lunch together if any of your lunch periods overlap, just to catch up! And if not, there is nothing like a teacher happy hour on a random Friday after school for a true sense of support. And if you are feeling especially generous, you can even share the Self-care For Teachers PDF with them!

Pretend YOU Are The Classroom Plant

Establish a strong foundation for mental wellness by ensuring you get enough sleep, follow a nutritious diet, spend time outdoors, and engage in regular exercise. Schedule self-care activities such as journaling or meditation and treat them as non-negotiable parts of your routine.

Be Realistic With Expectations

Maintain reasonable expectations for yourself, especially during uncertain times. Recognize that you are doing the best you can in challenging circumstances. Celebrate small victories and give yourself credit for your efforts.

The Bottom Line

Remember, you deserve the same care and attention you give to your students (as detailed in the Self-care For Teachers PDF). By implementing regular strategies to restore your mental health into your routine, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the demands of teaching this year. And the more you practice sincerely, the better your overall well-being. And we want that for all of us.

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