Treat Yourself with Kindness: 50 Self-Care Ideas for Teachers & School Counselors

Checklist of different self care ideas for teachers and school counselors.


We know that having a large toolbox of self-care ideas for teachers is always a priority.  However, there may be certain times during the school year that you’re particularly feeling the weight of an extra large elephant on your shoulders. These are the times you need to hone in on your why and remember your amazingness.  On top of that, is important to treat yourself with some kindness.  Try a few of these self care tips for teachers, school counselors, administrators & support staff (and anyone else, really, too) to lift you out of the funk. 


Pick one from this list of self-care activities for educators and just start somewhere. Educators experience high levels of secondary trauma and practicing regular self-care is one strategy that supports staying grounded and positive. Your students need you to be mentally, physically and emotionally present as well as your family and friends. 

This is your reminder that it is okay to pass or say no if you are overwhelmed. You are needed and valued in the school system. Take kind care of yourself. 


Self-Care Checklist

  1. Have you overcommitted? It’s okay to change your mind. Give yourself permission to back out of things that you can rearrange on your schedule.

  2. Clean up and organize your space. Anything that is not serving you on your desk, dining room table, end of the kitchen counter catch all space – throw it out or donate it. 

  3. Put together a playlist of your favorite tunes. One for your classroom or office, and one for your drive to and from work!

     4. Send a hand-written thank you note. Focusing your mind on gratitude releases some strong endorphins.

     5. Plan out your meals for the week. This will help you avoid grabbing unhealthy food and take the stress               out of planning dinner time for you or your family when you walk in the door after a long day.

      6. Find and use a mantra.  Pin them up on a cork board or write them on your bathroom mirror. Having an             especially tough time? Use one or two three of these affirmations Reminders for Hard Days FREE                         POSTER.

7. Chances are you have a million and one things going on in your mind that you need to put on paper. Take a minute to journal – releasing what you can not control and writing down your goals for the day, week, or month. 

8. Eat at your favorite restaurant or food truck. Orange Chicken, Southern Comfort Food, Pulled Pork Street Tacos, you name it. Ignite your senses of smell and taste and enjoy. 

9. Spend quality time with someone you value. A Friend, Spouse, Parent, Your Children, someone who fills your bucket every time you are with them. 

10. Explore your creativity or try something new! Painting? Cross stitch? Building a tree-house? Accomplishing a creative task is a reminder that you are capable of so many things. 

11. Spend time alone. Quiet, still, meditating, releasing negative emotions and welcoming in positive grace. 

12. Make your bed. Something about jumping into a made bed at the end of the day just feels good.

13. Create a morning routine. Especially if you are a self-proclaimed night owl! A morning routine will even out the ripples of the morning waves. 

14. Dive into your favorite hobby. Maybe its been a while since you challenged your partner to a friendly game of tennis, since you picked up a good murder mystery novel, or since you ran a 5K. Recommit to hobbies you enjoy. 

15.  Chase nature and bring your camera! Walk, skip and twirl, or even drive through a state park and take pictures. 

Pie chart that lists 9 different reasons to spend time in nature.

16. Buy a plant. Fresh oxygen and foliage makes your space feel extra happy and healthy. 

17.  Unplug and turn off the screen.

18. Get up and move. Exercise and movement is a simple and free way to add in daily self-care. Keep weights at your desk and pump out a few reps of bicep curls between students. Run in place, do some jumping jacks, or take a walk at your lunch break. Increasing your heart rate daily improves both your overall physical and mental health. 

19. Opt for the healthy snack.  Balance your diet – left over halloween candy sure is tempting, but have a few apples and celery sticks in between. 

20. Ask for help! You do not need to, nor are you expected to, do it all yourself. Utilize your supports in your building or in your personal life. 

21. Forgive yourself. When we are overwhelmed, we forget things, forget to do things, and make mistakes. Forgive yourself, make a plan, and move on. 

22.  Take a long hot bath or shower. Escaping and letting the water run over your head, neck and back while you practice breathing exercises helps recenter your mind and focus. 

23.  Visit a new place. Been dying to try the new local pizza joint that opened up, the ice skating rink they froze downtown for the holiday season, or the trendy home decor store on the corner? Set a date and go! Self-care includes stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new. 

24. Are you shutting off your brain at a decent hour to get a solid amount of sleep? Make sleep part of your self-care routine. Your body needs the down time to rejuvenate. 

Illustration of boy sleeping with 4 tips to get good sleep.

25. Go for a drive. Explore the holiday lights going up in your neighborhood, drive through the local park or downtown and watch the seasons change, jump on the highway and explore the next small town. The stillness of the road and being with your thoughts or favorite tunes can certainly help clear your mind. 

26. Splurge on a little dessert. Pastries, chocolate cake, pecan ice cream, oh my!

27.  Watch a funny movie or try not to laugh videos on YouTube. Laughter is the best medicine.

28. Stay in your PJ’s ALL. DAY. LONG!

29. Make a list of all the things you love about yourself. Ask your spouse or a loved one to add to it. 

30. Find a new podcast that sparks joy or encourages you to learn something new. 

31. Play with animals. If you don’t have a pet, you can visit local alpaca farms, goat farms, or the petting zoo! 

32.  Pop some popcorn, curl up on the couch, and re-watch an old movie, pick a new movie or binge watch something on Netflix!

33.  If personal touch is your love language, schedule a massage! Even if its not, massage helps release built up stress and tension in your muscles, clearing your mind and thoughts. 

34. Create a vision board. Put those old magazines to good use and create a collage of your goals and dreams. Hang it in a prominent place as a frequent reminder. 35. Make art, sign it, and frame it. You can even gift it if you’d like!

36. Only have a couple minutes? Engage your body and mind in some breathing exercises to help self-regulate. 

37. Start or end your day with some Yoga! Check out this Mindfulness Yoga Poses resource that you could print and have a copy for yourself at home and at school.  And even better, integrate yoga, stretches and other calming movements into the school day.  Both you and your students will benefit!

38. Make a list of your accomplishments for the week. Reflect on what went well. Remember that you are amazing, you are talented, and you can do hard things. 

39. Look at the stars. Sit with the quiet, still, dark sky. 

40. Re-arrange a room in your house. Re-arrange your classroom or school office. Refresh a space to spark joy. 

41. Search for free activities in your city. Most cities have an events page or local bloggers that you can follow on social media to find out current events happening in your town. Mom blogs are great too if you are looking for activities to include kids. 

42. Look through your photo memories. Took a once in a lifetime trip with your family in 2019? Picture yourself there, again. Had a blast kayaking with your best friend? Reminisce through your laughing eyes. Celebrated a milestone birthday? Snapped photos of your kids on the trampoline?  Decorated your house for the Holidays? Practice self-care by reliving life through photos. 

43. Paint your nails. Sometimes adding a little glamor is all it takes. 

44. Go through your closet and try on clothes you haven’t worn in forever! Donate the ones you no longer enjoy and move the ones you forgot about to the front. A fresh fit adds a much needed pep to your step. 

45. Reflect on what you need. Make T-chart with the headings: I can do, I need help. Ideas of categories include – rest or relaxation, expression, health or spirituality or companionship. Start crossing off the items as you do them and ask for help as needed. 

46. Have a dance party – solo in your living room, or at the silent disco!

47.  Volunteer. You have talents and love that can be shared with others – try planting trees for the city parks, serving meals at the homeless shelter, crocheting blankets for the animal shelter or working the book fair at your child’s school. 

48. Give and receive a great big hug. 

49. Use your lifeline and phone a friend. Your high school best friend, an old coach or mentor, or your grandmother. Reconnect with someone who just gets you. 

50. Are you drinking enough water? Drink more!

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