10 ways to help teachers prioritize wellness

As teachers prepare for the closing weeks of the school year, a top priority is ensuring that each student reaches their goals. But it’s also important for teachers to prioritize themselves during this busy—and joyful—time of year. 

Here are 10 ways that teachers can focus on their own wellness so they can best help their students be at their best.

Treat yourself. Whether that’s a day with friends or a quick trip to a local coffee shop, taking a little bit of time to treat yourself can help you re-energize. We also encourage being active by taking a mindful walk! Walking meditation can heighten your awareness of your senses and your environment, helping you to focus and respond more intentionally at school and at home. No matter the activity or your budget, take the time to relax and enjoy something meaningful.

Seek support. We aren’t meant to do everything alone. Seeking support when you feel overwhelmed, tired, or just generally busy can help lighten your load. This can be helpful at home or at school. Remember, most people want to help—you just have to ask!

Remember your “why.” Remembering your “why” on hard or long days can help you recenter and refocus. Whatever your “why” is—getting to know students, affecting change, or brightening a child’s day—try to prioritize that feeling.

Take a break and set boundaries. While we know taking work home can sometimes be unavoidable, try setting boundaries around how much you take home. This includes the time that you actually stop working and start relaxing, or how much work you take on. Here are some tips to take a self-compassion break at school. Having compassion and patience for yourself allows you to have more compassion for other people.

Connect with your students! Research shows that when we feel part of a community and connected to those around us, we feel happier. Sharing milestones, feelings, hobbies, or thoughts—big or small—with your students can build a culture of connection in your classroom. Along, a connection-builder that is offered by Gradient Learning, is a quick and free way to do that.

Get outside and soak up the sun! The days are longer, warmer, and perfect for a quick walk, or a few minutes outside to experience nature and absorb some much-needed vitamin D. Fresh air cleans your lungs, boosts your mood, lowers your heart rate, and increases energy levels. Take lunch outside, listen to music, get into an education podcast, read under a tree, or park further away at work to get a few extra minutes outdoors.

Start a garden. Getting your hands dirty can be relaxing and cleansing for the mind. There are several vegetables that you can start seeding indoors at the start of spring, including brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, squash, and perennial herbs. If you want to start outdoors, wildflowers are wildlife-friendly, fast-growing, low-maintenance, and a great way to keep the weeds away. If a green thumb isn’t your thing, succulent or faux plants are easy to maintain!

Start with a clean slate. This is a great time of the year for cleaning, re-organizing, decluttering, or donating items that you no longer need. If a spring refresh feels overwhelming, start small. Purge or clean one thing a day. After a month, you’ll have made a lot of progress!

Nourish yourself with spring’s produce! Find a local farmers market and stock up on bright, colorful fruits and vegetables. Asparagus, arugula, carrots, and peas are great in spring. Eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced depressive symptoms and higher levels of optimism and self-efficacy. Why not try a new recipe with your produce to get out of a food rut? Try this Spring Vegetable Risotto With Asparagus and Peas recipe that incorporates seasonal bounty.

Get that annual physical. If you’ve been putting off doctor appointments, now is a good time to find a primary care physician. Even minor symptoms that seem manageable should be discussed with a doctor.

We hope all educators find time for rest and relaxation before the end of the school year. It’s essential to take care of ourselves so we can continue to best serve all students. 

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.