Stressed to the MAX? 

If you’re a stressed teacher, then chances are you’ve got some stressed kids.

That’s not the goal.

The goal is to be a happy teacher and have happy students.

My name is Elizabeth and I love helping teachers to think of creative ways to think about their teaching through art integration and SEAL: Social-Emotional Artistic Learning.

Today, I have five steps to de-stress yourself so that you can be a happy teacher and your students can be happy, too.  Let’s get started.





Step #1:

The first step has to do with your physical wellbeing.   This means, what you eat, what you drink, how you sleep, and how you move.  This is something that refers to not just teachers, but to everyone.  It’s probably something you already know, but when you can take care of your physical wellbeing, that lays the groundwork for everything else.

So, for the first step, you really do want to check out your lifestyle.

Are you physically taking care of yourself? And if you’re not, what are one or two tweaks that you can make to really help yourself?

When I’m super stressed out or feeling really overwhelmed, I know that I need to take a step back and actually look at what I need.  I cover a lot about this in this video about my strategy of Stop, Look, and Listen.  Check out that video here

That’s where you really need to take a look at what is happening in your life in that moment and what steps you can really take to help yourself.



Step #2

The second step is taking a look at your intellectual wellbeing. This is really important for us to keep in mind and it’s really about caring for your mind.  So, that might be finding a reflective practice that’s right for you.

Here are some suggestions for you:

  • writing
  • sketching
  • journaling
  • listening to music
  • meditation
  • physical exercise (such as running or dancing)
  • reading books or articles that feed your mind professionally or personally

Keep in mind that we’re professionals so taking a course or workshop that’s really going to feed your mind or challenge you to stretch your thinking can be just what your intellect really needs.

That’s why I’m a firm believer in providing teacher-centered professional development through The Inspired Classroom because that’s what we really need to focus on and what you really need. 

It’s about getting inspired so that you can be inspiring to your students.



Step #3:

The third step is a challenging one for many, many teachers. 

Leave your work at work.

I know that this is a really hard thing to do because we feel like if we don’t get something done at school that we need to bring it home. Think of all the times you’ve brought that bag home with papers to correct, and stayed up late to correct them or maybe decided that you didn’t need to correct it and that pile is still in your bag.

It’s even more challenging now if you’re teaching remotely because your workplace is also your home. So, you really need to think about how can you actually separate your workplace, your school, from home.

Here are some tips I have for you:

  • Use a timer to designate when you are going to stop working.  Set a limit for yourself.  For example, give yourself 15-20 minutes after the close of school to reorganize and get yourself set for the next day.  Then, leave everything on your desk and walk out that door.
  • Take a break in between when school ends and when your personal time begins.  For example, go for a drive or go for a walk.  Make this be a separate thing that happens that helps to break apart those two separate pieces of your life.   


Know Yourself

Maybe you’re the kind of teacher that really does need to do certain things in the evening before school starts the next day. If that actually helps you, then do it.  If you can spend an hour of your time in the evening and it makes you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead, then you certainly should be doing that.  But, if that’s the type of thing that stresses you out and it really doesn’t do you much good for the following day, then you really should consider cutting that part out.

A helpful way to think about this is to make a list.  List out all the things that you do outside of school and see if all of those things are really necessary for you to have a successful day the next day.  The things that can be crossed off your list easily aren’t really necessary.

How to Deal with Stress as a Teacher

Step #4:

Step four can be a little hard to swallow at first, but stick with me.

Step four is about modifying your expectations.   Listen, I didn’t say lowering your expectations, I said modifying your expectations.

I’m not talking about changing the quality of the work that you’re doing or expecting less from your students in terms of the quality that they’re doing.  I don’t mean changing the teaching that you’re providing, either.


Quality over Quantity

What I mean instead is modifying the quantity of work that you’re assigning. Maybe you cut down on the pieces that make up an assignment.  Or, it might be that you are actually changing the assignment.  Another idea is lessening the load of work that you expect from your class, which will actually provide higher quality in the end.

Another example might mean that you change the way that you assess or grade something. So, you might go from an elaborate rubric to maybe a check mark system.  This might be something that you do for just one or two assignments or just every one in a while. It doesn’t have to be for everything, but just doing this every once in a while can really lessen your load for yourself.


Step Back and Reflect

So here’s the tricky part about this step. Trimming back things like this can sometimes be seen as a negative thing.  What really is happening is that you’re adapting to what YOU need.

With education changing so much in just the last year, sometimes we need to take a step back and see how we can reassess what it is we do and our expectations on ourselves and our students.

Make a change that is not only doable, but doable in a real quality manner.


Step #5

All right.  Here we are at number five. The number five way to de-stress has to do with your emotional wellbeing.  This is so simple, it’s going to seem silly.

Find reasons to smile. Seek out reasons to smile.

Make opportunities during your class time to smile with your students. Greet your students with a smile and encourage them to smile back at you. Seek out your colleagues and have that opportunity to smile with them.  Text them or message them a smile if you don’t get to see them during the day.

Science actually says that if you smile, even if you’re faking it, it can actually bring your mood up.

We all could use a little reason to smile every so often.  In fact, it’s always a good idea to start rekindling that joy that we have for teaching.  Sometimes that can be hard.


Join Me in my FREE Workshop!

If you’re looking for a great way to continue learning stress management techniques and smile more, I want you to join me in my free workshop.  In this workshop, I share some of my best secrets to building a classroom environment through the ARTS where your students can thrive and you can rekindle that joy of teaching.

Here’s the LINK to the FREE WORKSHOP!


Free SEAL WorkshopYou know the arts are a great way to address students’ social-emotional needs, but HOW?  Let me show you in this FREE workshop on The 3 Secrets to Integrating the Arts with SEL – even Online!

Go to to join our mailing list and learn how to become a SEAL teacher! 


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! 

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Free Online Workshop about SEAL

Unlock the Power of the ARTs and Develop your Students’ Social-Emotional Skills!

Free SEAL Workshop

In just 1 hour, you'll learn:


✔️The “Beach Boys” technique you must use before you go into the school building each day—it will set you up for a day of positivity and peace.

✔️ The 4 embedded SEAL strategies that you can easily make a part of your busy teacher day.

✔️ The #1 mistake some teachers make when they first start integrating the arts with SEL—and how pretending you’re a glue stick can help you avoid it.

✔️ Ideas for jumpstarting arts integration in your classroom right away—you won’t want to wait to implement these.

✔️ And finally, the one question you must ask yourself if you find yourself thinking, “I’m not a very good artist though, I don’t think I can do this…”—it will totally change your mind.

✔️ Plus - Get a certificate for 1 Professional Development Hour!

How to Make and Use an Emotional Wheel
Why Should YOU Teach SEL?