Self-Care Resources

Note 3/24/20:
  • Here are two new Mindful Teachers posts about mindfulness and self-care in the midst of the Corona Crisis:

photo by tuelezka for

Self-care is far from self-indulgent, especially among those of us who are committed to serving others. It isn’t about being selfish or shirking our responsibilities. It’s about figuring out what aspects of our work and schedules we have control over and making choices about how to most effectively spend our time and energy.

Here are tips, links, reflections, and mindfulness practices to help you cope with the common challenges faced by educators and other helping professionals.  

(This list of posts and resources has grown a lot in the past few years, and I realize it can get a bit overwhelming. I'm currently thinking through the best way to reorganize the self-care links so you can quickly and easily find the resources you need.)

4 Tips for Coping with Anxiety and Cabin Fever

Growing Stronger Even in a Crisis Situation: Mindful Practices to Use Throughout the Day

What Does It Really Mean to Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First?

Self-Care Playlist: Gentle Standing Yoga and Stretching Videos

Posters, Quizzes, and Infographics About Mindfulness and Self-Care

Realistic Self-Care: 12 Key Questions to Figure Out What Works for YOU

Renewing Your Love for Teaching: The Moment That Is Summer

Feeling Stressed and Out of Time: Ending A School Year ⎼ Or Anything

10 Questions About Self-Care Only You Can Answer

Do-It-Yourself Mini-Retreat for Counselors and Teachers

The Power of Intention Setting for a Mindful School Year

Self-Care Video Playlists

Chair-Based Yoga and Stretching Routines 
Gentle Yoga, Mindful Movement, and Indoor Walking
Gentle Standing Yoga and Stretching Videos 
Silent (and Sound-Optional) Videos for Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga 

Coping with Stress and Burnout

Calm Down and Reduce Your Stress: Tips for Mindful (but Busy!) Teachers 
Body-based practices to help us focus on the present and stop ruminating.
'Check Up from the Neck Up' Relaxation Practice
Evalyn Gaskell of Harmony LifeBalance shares her favorite practice for recognizing and reducing self-induced stress.
Do-It-Yourself Mini-Retreat for Counselors and Teachers
Tips from mindfulness facilitator Jennifer Howd on creating your own, at-home retreat. All you need is a clear intention and some self-discipline. 
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... for teachers 
Six reminders to keep things in perspective, based on the popular self-help book.
How Burnt Out Are You? 
Are you just having a bad day, or is it time to quit your job?  Or are you in serious need of some R and R (if only you could find the time)?  Answering these ten questions should point you in the right direction... or confirm what you already suspect.
Mindful Teaching by the Numbers 
This poster/infographic shows a a few important numbers to keep in mind as you 'keep calm and carry on.'
Mindfulness and Self-Care for Caregivers  
Tips for professional and family caregivers (carers), based on my family's experience taking care of my mom during her four-year struggle with brain cancer.
Mindfulness and Self-Care for Teachers
In this interview, I discuss how to take better care of ourselves so we can better meet the needs of our students.
"The purpose of mindfully labeling thoughts and feelings is to recognize that they’re distinct from the person who’s having them.  You are not your thoughts and feelings; they come and go while you remain yourself." 
Quick Sanity Breaks for Mindful (but Busy!) Teachers
This poster/infographic shows half a dozen quick ways to clear your head and take care of yourself.
Suggestions on setting limits, work-life balance, and self-compassion.
Relaxed Abdominal Breath: Stress Reduction through Mindful Breathing
"Shallow breathing ('chest breathing') can result in a vicious cycle: We breathe shallowly because we’re under stress, which makes the body feel it’s not getting enough air... Relaxed abdominal breathing ('belly breathing') is one of nature’s best anti-stress medicines." 
Restless Mind: Typical Strategies for Denying Stress 
"Most people have a preferred tactic to avoid painful stress reactions... Becoming aware of avoiding a stressful emotion is often the first step in learning how to do something different."
Should I Quit My Job? 
Have you been feeling frustrated and burnt out?  Maybe you've started wondering whether it's time to move on? Answering these ten questions should help you make up your mind.
Step Back, Then Tackle Your Frustration: Tips for Mindful (but Busy!) Teachers
A few strategies for dealing with the frustration that comes from feeling like we don't have control over our work.

What's the Best Mindfulness Practice for Me? 
Interested in mindfulness, but not sure where to start?  Or looking for some new ideas to add to your existing practice?  This quick quiz will help point you in the right direction.

Mind-Body Health

Body Scan: Awareness of the Body  
"The purpose of the body scan is not necessarily to relax or to go to sleep, although it can help with that sometimes.  The important thing is that you stay open and curious to your body's experience."
Five Senses Snack: a Mindful Eating Chart
It isn't a treat if you're not enjoying it.  This chart can help you truly appreciate what you're eating by slowing down and noticing not just the flavor but also the texture, scent, color, and even sound.  

Is Your Mind Connected to Your Body? 
Here's a quiz to help you measure the strength of your mind-body connection, followed by suggestions for practices you might find useful.

Rainbow Walk: a Mindfulness Activity to Move the Body and Rest the Mind 
This is a great activity if you tend to spend too much time sitting around with your mind running in circles.
Trying on Different Shapes: Mindfulness of Mood and Posture
"Changing our shape, in its many parts, can change our mood, our awareness, and what actions we’re able to take."
Wellness Tips for Stressed-Out Teachers
In this interview, fitness expert (and former kindergarten teacher) Debra Mazda gives specific suggestions for how teachers can integrate healthier eating and exercise habits into a busy workday. 

Compassionate Image: a Guided Visualization Practice  
Imagining what complete compassion might feel like can help us access that feeling during difficult times. 
Next Time I'll Do Better: Recognizing and Learning from Mistakes  
It’s uncomfortable to feel guilt or shame over something we’ve done.  But instead of trying to push away these negative feelings, we can use them to avoid making the same kind of mistake again.    

Wise Elder Visualization: a practice for parents and teachers  
Imagining a supportive elder can help you respond mindfully in emotionally-charged situations. 

Links to More Resources 

10 Steps Towards School Staff Wellbeing, from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

Skovholt Practitioner Professional Resiliency and Self-Care Inventory"The Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project© is dedicated to educating caregivers about authentic, sustainable self-care and aiding organizations in their goal of providing healthy, compassionate care to those whom they serve." free personal advice, from "an online inter-generational program pairing advice seekers with a network of seniors (“Elders”) who provide empathetic, caring, and supportive advice based on their own life experiences."

Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL), measuring compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary trauma.

Self-Compassion Practices from Dr. Kristin Neff
guided meditations and exercises on coping with emotions, self-nurturing techniques, and changing critical self-talk

Yoga for Teachers video by Adriene Mishler

Mindful Self-Care with Shelly Tygielski, an 8-part series including:
How to Find Your Self-Care Squad
Self-Care for Difficult Times; and
Transforming Self-Care into a Passionate Movement 

from Mindful Schools:

Educators: You Have Permission to Take Care of Yourself, Right Now

from The Mindful Teacher:
Morning Guided Meditation for Teachers 
Mid-Day Guided Meditation for Teachers 
Evening Guided Meditation for Teachers

from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society:
Attending Retreats 
Contemplative Practice in Daily Life
The Tree of Contemplative Practices  

from Greater Good:
Can Compassion Training Help Physicians Avoid Burnout?
How Self-Compassion Can Help Prevent Teacher Burnout
How to Build Trust in Schools 
Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers

from The Guardian Teacher Network:

Daily tips to help teachers stay happy and healthy during the week 
Five ways teachers can fit exercise around work 
How to balance work with family life: a teacher's survival guide 
Stress-busting snacks: easy recipes for exam season 
Teacher's guide to sleep – and why it matters 
Ten tips on how teachers can improve their work-life balance

from Edutopia:
Back to School Stress: Establishing Good Habits
Don't Quit: Five Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching
End of Year Burnout: How to Finish the Marathon in Stride
Five Myths That Sabotage Our Love of Teaching 
The Oasis Within: Mindfulness Practice for Teachers
Seven Self-Care Strategies For Teachers 
Teaching With Trauma: For teachers coping with adverse childhood experiences or other traumas, common classroom situations can trigger strong reactions. 
Twelve Choices to Help You Step Back from Burnout
When Teachers Compete, No One Wins