Woman sitting in a classroom

Educators are no strangers to challenges. But throughout the past couple of years, teachers have felt more pressure than ever before as they’ve juggled extra responsibilities and tackled new situations on the fly, often with limited resources and support. So it’s no surprise that all of this has taken a toll on teacher mental health, wellbeing, and satisfaction with the profession.

While addressing teacher mental health isn’t simple, it’s easy for teachers to lose sight of it when they feel pressure to put everything else before themselves. To help teachers address this, here are a few actions you might take to prioritize your own mental health in the coming school year.

4 Ways Teachers Can Prioritize Their Own Mental Health

Discover some strategies you can implement to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing this year and prevent burnout.

1. Protect your energy and mental health by setting boundaries.

One of the hardest things about teaching is that there’s always something to be done (and that there’s never enough time to do it). This can make it feel extremely difficult for teachers to set boundaries to protect their mental health. However, setting healthy boundaries is crucial to your success in the classroom since it can help you focus on what’s most important. Plus, it can help you find time to do the things that bring you joy and recharge you.

This looks like: 

  • Setting limits and timers for when and how long you will work on school things.
  • Choosing to not check or respond to work emails and texts while at home. 
  • Saying no to things when you want to or need to (and not shaming yourself for it).
  • Using your planning periods for yourself, instead of others.

2. Prioritize time to rest and replenish your cup.

It can be hard to turn off your teacher brain. But prioritizing rest and work-life balance can help you process your day (or your week), renew your energy, and ultimately prevent you from burning out. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

This looks like:

  • Scheduling a few mini breaks throughout the day or taking your full lunch break (rather than pushing through and feeling wiped out).
  • Giving yourself permission not to do work over the weekend or during school breaks.
  • Limiting time on devices or turning them off after a certain time.
  • Letting go of the pressure to constantly create lessons from scratch.

3. Stop expecting perfection from yourself.

You don’t have to be perfect in order to be a good teacher. It’s okay if your desk is messy or if your bulletin boards aren’t Instagram perfect. It’s okay if you don’t have the most extravagant lessons or the cutest classroom decor. All that you can ask from yourself is that you do your best — and your best is more than enough.

This looks like:

  • Setting small, manageable, and realistic goals. 
  • Prioritizing your to-do list in order of what absolutely needs to be completed. Being okay with not checking everything off of the list.
  • Muting social media accounts that make you feel guilty for not doing “enough.”

4. Practice self-compassion.

Just as you would say to your students: it’s okay to not feel okay. We all have good days and bad days. But it’s important to remember that it’s not a reflection on you or your abilities. Give yourself grace, and the ability to start fresh.

This looks like:

  • Speaking to yourself as you would to a friend or loved one — with affirming statements and understanding.
  • Reflect on your progress and celebrate your growth. There’s so much you’ve done and achieved over the past year.

If nothing else, remember: teacher mental health is essential and necessary. Most of all, it’s okay to prioritize yourself.

Discover more ways to practice self care and strategies for work-life balance.