Stop, Look and Listen

Drained? Overwhelmed?​

You know teacher self-care is important and here’s a strategy that works! These self care activities for a tough day will help you when you are in a moment of stress and anxiety.  Pull yourself out of that distress with these quick self-care tips for teachers like YOU!






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Let’s Face It…

You’re drained, you’re overwhelmed.

Sometimes you just sit almost in tears over everything that you’re doing and you feel like you’re getting nowhere fast.

Ah! You’re a teacher. But you shouldn’t feel this way.

And today I’m going to share with you one of my best strategies for making sure you’re taking care of you.

My name’s Elizabeth and I love to help teachers who are struggling to rekindle that passion that they have for teaching. And I do it by talking about creative arts integration and SEALs strategies that aren’t just for students, but are also for teachers as well. (And if you like these ideas of creative teacher self-care, be sure to subscribe to my channel and hit that bell to be notified when a new video comes up, ’cause we’re going to be talking a lot about how teachers can take care of themselves while also making sure they’re caring for their students as well.)

Be Proactive!

Now, much of the teacher’s self care work that is out there is preventative: giving you some great ideas to prevent burnout, right?

Taking time for you going for walks, setting boundaries, joining a yoga class, and all of those things are great.

But what if you’re in the moment and you’re about to freak out. Many teachers are in that state of just being drained and on the verge of a real burnout.

So, I’m going to go with a real classic here. Are you ready? It’s stop, look, and listen.


When you’re in that moment of distress, the first thing you want to do is stop and take a breath. Doing this is going to slow down your heartbeat and give you a chance to really refocus.

Now, this is easier said than done, right?

Well, the key to this is to practice. So, practice with me right now…

Ideally, you want to take three deep breaths to gain the most benefit out of that breath. Now remember the key is to practice this. So, practice it in the car, when you’re on the couch, before you go to bed, before you turn your computer on, at the start of a staff meeting, after a good meal, when you’re brushing your teeth, when you’re in the shower, when your favorite song comes on the radio. Practice this literally everywhere. And practice this with your students too. Practice taking a nice deep breath before you transition from one activity to the next. Actually stop what you’re doing with your students and breathe with them. This is practice that can be so beneficial for all of us.

The purpose of practicing this is so that when you actually need it, it will be more of a natural thing for you to do.

So, when you’re freaking out or about to explode, you can stop and take that second to do some deep breaths.


Okay, so we’ve stopped. Now it’s time to look.

Once you’re in a decent frame of mind, take a moment to look at where you currently are and look around see what you’re doing and think: What is it about the task or your situation that is draining you or stressing you out or making you feel a certain way?

Look at your setting and your situation and think about if there’s a way you can change anything about it.

  • Can you move to a new location?
  • Can you toss a pile of papers into the recycling? Yeah, I’ve done that before.
  • Can you ask another person to help you out?
  • Can you stop the lesson and ask your students to pull out a book to read or a piece of paper to doodle on?
  • Or are you doing something that you can actually just put off until another time when you’re ready to really tackle it.

Really take the time to look around at your situation and try to make a change or adjust things.


I vividly remember a time when I was staying late after school and I had a huge pile of papers that needed to be corrected. Well, I just wasn’t in the mood and as much as I wanted to tackle that situation, it was bringing a lot of stress onto me.

I knew that there were many, many different assignments that I had to check over and so I stopped myself and I looked at the situation. I checked out what really needed to be done and I found a couple of piles in there of papers that were pretty old and weren’t really going to give me any good information about my students, that I hadn’t learned since they actually had that assignment.

So, I took those couple of piles and I freely put them into the recycling bin.

Look, sometimes we need to do these things, taking that moment to really look at my situation and decide what was really something I could change or adjust about it made all the difference in the world. I was then able to put more energy and focus into the papers that were really going to give me the information that I needed about my students.


So far, we have talked about how to stop and breathe, how to look at the situation. And now we’re going to do the third step, which is listen.

In this step you really need to listen to your body and figure out what it is that you need.

  • Do you need a night off of work?
  • Do you need a mental health day?
  • Do you need to just go for a walk?
  • Do you need to free up your schedule somehow?
  • Do you need to go take a long drive?
  • Do you need a piece of chocolate?
  • Do you need some time for fun?
  • Do you need to go out?
  • Do you need a night off of cooking?
  • Do you need a nap?

There have been times when I’ve come home from school or I’ve finished a day of remote teaching and I go straight to my phone and set that timer for 15 minutes and then head to the couch and take a quick nap. There’s no shame in that!

But then there are other days that I just need to go grab a really good cup of coffee. And so I’ll travel somewhere where I can get a really nice caramel flavored coffee, and then I either sit down on my couch or drive around for a little bit and enjoy every bit.

This is about really listening to your own body. No one knows it better than you, and you can figure out what it is that you truly need.


A few years back I was so stressed out, sleep deprived, frustrated and just simply burnt out that my shoulders were literally in pain. I don’t mean, oh, I might need to stretch them out a little bit or maybe do a little bit of this or that, I mean, they were in pain with me just sitting down and watching TV.

And so I did something that I thought was such a luxury. I actually scheduled a massage and you know what? After that 60 minutes, my shoulders felt so much better. In fact, they felt so much better that I decided to schedule a couple more sessions after that to really help my body to feel the way that it should.

Now, that’s what worked for my body in that moment. That’s what I needed. I knew that because I listened to my body.

For others, it might be yoga or taking that extra long drive home with the music blasting and the windows open and feeling so free. Listening to your body and figuring out what you need can sometimes be a challenge. That’s why it’s the final step in your stop, look and listen strategy. First, you need to get situated in your surroundings and then you can really allow yourself to think about your needs.

Be Proactive!

The final part of listening to your body is thinking about how you can be proactive and consider some real teacher self-care, that is preventative.

  • Are there things that you can take off your plate?
  • Is there an app that’s going to help you sleep?
  • What kind of music is going to make you feel good?
  • Maybe you set up a space in your home or your classroom and create, maybe you take some time every morning to journal.
  • Maybe you need to schedule some time with a friend or with your spouse.

Being proactive and thinking preventatively is the next step in all of this so that you can really take good care of you.

The way I think about all of this is that we all came into education to make a difference, but you can’t help others if you aren’t okay yourself.

So, if you find yourself in a really tough situation, I want you to remember to stop, look, and listen to what you need and then make it happen.

If you want more tips on how to take care of yourself and inspire yourself so that you can be inspiring to your students, be sure to subscribe to the channel and hit the bell to be notified when we have new videos just for you.

My name’s Elizabeth and I can’t wait to see you in the next video.


One of the best things you can do for yourself is surround yourself with other caring, creative educators!  That’s why I want you to join our amazing FB community: Inspiring Teachers!  Share ideas, ask questions and get support from colleagues around the globe who believe in the power of arts in education! 


Subscribe to our channel and hit the bell to be notified of new videos.  We will be talking about many creative self care activities for teachers like you that are easy and quick to implement.

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