Back to School time can be an emotional and stressful time for students, parents, and teachers. Today, I’m sharing some back-to-school self-care tips and strategies to help put everyone at ease as you head back into classrooms.
Excitement, happiness, and anxiousness mixed with nervousness, denial (how can it already be time to go back to school?), and overwhelm can leave everyone feeling confused and uneasy about the upcoming school year. But, focusing on your self-care routine can help you better manage your emotions as you prepare for back to school!
How Self-Care Can Reduce Stress About Going Back to School
We have heard people use the word self-care so much lately, haven’t we? We hear folks giving suggestions for self-care on blogs, podcasts, and even YouTube. But, there’s a reason for that. A study by Very Well Mind confirms the belief that self-care can help reduce stress.
There can be so many things about the opening of a new school year that cause stress for adults and even for children. Parents worry about logistics regarding transportation, scheduling, and getting the proper supplies. Students worry about their teacher(s), their schedules, and their friends. And the teacher? Whew. The list goes on and on for the things that teachers worry about. But, one thing for sure is that having a solid self-care plan can help you manage the stress associated with back-to-school and help you begin the school year with confidence sans the feelings of overwhelm!
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Self-Care Tips for Teachers
I’m a former classroom teacher. So, I can relate well to the stress associated with back-to-school. However, I’m also a huge proponent of self-care and know firsthand that taking care of yourself as an educator is so important.
Even though many will say that teachers (especially veteran teachers) should be very familiar with the back-to-school transition, many unknowns cause stress for even the best of the best teachers.
Here are some strategies for teachers heading back to school for a new school year:
1. Ask for Help When You Feel Overwhelmed
Asking for help is difficult for some teachers. Teachers have the reputation of being the go-to person, so it can be difficult for them to succumb when they need help. How do I know? Because I spent 11 years as a classroom teacher!
Teaching is undoubtedly a very stressful job, and it is easy to become overwhelmed. Can we normalize teachers asking for help when they feel overwhelmed?
For example, when teachers are preparing for the new school year, it can be overwhelming to think about everything needed for the classroom. It doesn’t take long for that back-to-school list to grow. I’ve seen several teachers post wish lists on social media. I think that’s a great idea! You would be surprised how many people are ready to step up and support teachers by purchasing items from the wish list! This is a great way to release some of the stress involved with a new school year.
2. Listen to Encouraging Podcasts on the Way to School
Listening to podcasts is a new favorite pastime of mine. I have a bit of a commute to and from work, and I’ve found that listening to podcasts is a great way to spend that time in the car. I was shocked to learn how many podcasts there are. There is literally a podcast for any topic that you can think of.
I suggest taking some time to listen to several different podcasts to find the ones that are most appropriate for you. While it’s good to listen to education-related podcasts, I also think it would be beneficial to listen to some self-care and self-improvement podcasts as well. You may also find several other podcasts that entertain or motivate you and put your mind at ease as you prepare to begin the new school year.
If you haven’t already listened to my podcast, WhatCherithinks, you should check it out! In addition to education topics, I also talk about self-care on my podcast.
3. Practice Mindfulness in Some Form Every Morning
When I think about mindfulness, I think about acknowledging and accepting your feelings. It is essential to take time to practice mindfulness every day. Starting your morning with activities like meditation, focusing on your senses, and conscious breathing are great ways to become more mindful.
For teachers, it is especially important to practice mindfulness as they prepare for the upcoming school year. Adding mindfulness activities to your daily routine is important for keeping your emotions in check.
Greater Good Magazine offers lots of information about how to practice and cultivate mindfulness.
4. Take Part in Your Favorite Hobby After School Is Over
Hobbies are a great way to take time for yourself and focus on something that you really enjoy. I encourage teachers to find a hobby and commit to doing that hobby regularly.
Schedule time in your week for your hobby as a way to reduce stress and focus on yourself. If you don’t have a hobby, check out this video for some suggestions of hobbies you might enjoy.
5. Treat Yourself to a Calming Bubble Bath
Calming bubble baths are a great way to relieve stress. You will find bubble baths on multiple lists for self-care tips. That’s because there have been numerous studies to support the effectiveness of a calming bubble bath.
If you’re more of a shower person, there are now shower bombs that can be used to achieve similar effects as bubble baths. Body Restore Shower Steamers is a great brand to try if you’ve never used a shower steamer!
Click here for more self-care tips for teachers.
You can hear more self-care tips for teachers on my Podcast.
Self-Care Tips for Children, Teens, and College Students Starting School Again
Not only do teachers face stress and overwhelm going back to school, but children do as well. I want to share some back-to-school tips for children to help reduce the stress and overwhelm associated with a new school year. These self-care tips for students will make starting the upcoming school year much easier.
These tips will also include some health tips for children at school since there is an increased need for us to be very intentional about keeping ourselves and our children healthy, especially in schools.
6. Designate a Learning Space at Home That’s Just for Them
Many children are returning to traditional school this year. Whether your children are attending traditional school or if they will be attending school virtually, it is important to designate a learning space at home that’s just for them.
We need to create habits and practices that help foster student success. Little things like establishing routines can be so helpful as students navigate the new school year.
7. Practice a Healthy Sleep Routine Two Weeks Before School Starts
I saw a meme the other day on social media that was joking about parents having kids to practice going to bed early in preparation for back to school. While it was a hilarious meme, it was a helpful one as well. Just like establishing designated learning areas at home is important, developing healthy sleep routines is also important.
We know how important it is for students to be well-rested for school. We also know that we have, more than likely, thrown out those bedtime rules over the summer. So, it is important to start practicing going to bed early about two weeks before school starts to help your children re-establish those healthy habits.
8. Learn to Be Flexible and Go with the Flow
Flexibility is of utmost importance in schools. Even though there are plans and calendars and routines, the pandemic has shown us the importance of going with the flow.
9. Teach Older Kids & Teens to Keep a Calendar or Planner
The return of school comes complete with an ever-growing list of things to do. Part of teaching kids to be responsible is teaching them to keep a calendar or planner. Doing this helps them to take responsibility for the tasks and assignments they have. Additionally, if they are involved in sports and extracurricular activities, it helps them learn to manage their time.
Depending on the age and ability of your child, you may want to use a digital calendar or planner. But, if your child does better with a paper calendar, here are some great options:
10. Encourage Open & Honest Conversation
One of the best things we can do for our children as they prepare to return to school is to encourage them to communicate openly and honestly. It’s easy to talk to kids about fun things, but when it comes to having tough conversations with your teens, it can be a little more challenging. As it gets closer to the beginning of the new school year, you should begin having conversations with them about their feelings related to
Self-Care Tips for Parents with School-Aged Kids
The thought of a new school year not only brings anxiety and uncertainty to teachers and students, but parents can also be nervous about their kids going back to school. So, I’m going to share some back-to-school tips for parents, too.
11. Start Your Day with Scripture
Inspiration from the Bible has been a source o serenity for several years. Reading scriptures from the Bible can be so calming and comforting to put your mind at ease as you prepare to send your children back to school. You might want to go ahead and bookmark a few of the most reassuring scriptures that you can find so that you can commit them to memory for the times when you are in need the most.
Here are some of my favorite scriptures that are fitting for back to school:
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
12. Create a Peaceful Sleep Environment in Your Bedroom
I thought that once my children got older, the sleepless nights would disappear. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out that being a parent can cause sleepless nights at all stages. Sometimes as parents, we worry when our children worry, especially when we can’t find a way to put their minds at ease. However, we need to intentionally create peaceful sleep environments in our bedrooms, especially in the time period leading up to a new school year.
Getting a good night’s sleep can help us be better prepared to deal with the stress that comes with the beginning of a new school year and it will create a good model for our children to follow as they deal with their own anxieties related to back-to-school.
Several things can contribute to creating a peaceful sleep environment, but one of my favorite ways to set the tone for a good night’s sleep is by using an essential oil diffuser. I love adding calming scents like lavender to help me fall asleep and stay asleep all night long.
I’ve learned over the years that getting a good night’s rest is the cure for several ailments.
13. Take a Quiet Walk with the Dog After Supper
Just like getting a good night’s sleep, taking walks is a great way to deal with stress. Even a brisk 30-minute walk can help relax your mind and give you some peace about your children starting back to school. Likewise, if you are a pet lover, you may find peace in spending time with your pet to help you focus on something other than whatever is causing you that extra stress.
14. Create a Command Center for the Whole Family to Avoid Brain Clutter
Sometimes, the thought of everything you have to do when school starts is what causes you stress, especially during back-to-school time. Having the summer to take a break from all of the chaos that comes with school (homework, extracurriculars, field trips, etc.) is nice and the thought of returning to our rat race lives makes us uneasy.
Being organized is a way to combat that stress. As you begin thinking about all of the extra stuff that comes along with back-to-school, create a Command Center for the family. This will help decrease brain clutter, which is sometimes the culprit of your anxiety surrounding the beginning of a new school year. A simple whiteboard for everyone to jot down their commitments or a corkboard and sticky notes to add extracurricular activities and tasks can help you begin to organize the family calendar so that everyone is on the same page. This simple task can be vital to setting your family up for success for the new school year.
15. Meal Prep School Lunches to Avoid the Last-Minute Rush
Meal prepping is such an important part of the school year. Schedules are already complex when school starts, so anything you can do to make things less complicated is definitely a plus! If your children take their lunches to school every day, go ahead and start planning those meals and procedures. Similarly, you can begin searching for dinner ideas so that you can plan out meals and prepare shopping lists ahead of time. There are so many meal planners and meal planning containers to choose from that can make your life so much easier. Being prepared by meal prepping can you avoid the last-minute rush that causes so much stress.
How to Help Your Child Deal with Anxiety About Going Back to School
If your child has anxiety about going back to school, know that this is completely normal. It is absolutely expected that children will experience some nervousness as they prepare for the upcoming school year. Reassure your children that it is okay for them to have some uncertainty about going back to school. No matter the age of your children, they are sure to have some mixed feelings about their new teacher, new classmates, transportation, coursework, and other school-related things.
As a parent, you can play a vital role in helping your child deal with back-to-school anxiety. Don’t avoid or dismiss the feelings that your children have. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and help them think through dealing with those feelings. Instead of simply reassuring them that everything will be okay, help them be proactive in thinking of coping strategies for what they are worried about.
If your children’s anxieties are extreme or if you don’t feel comfortable guiding your children through those feelings and emotions, seek help. Your children need to be in school and it’s important for them to feel safe and comfortable while there. Anxiety Canada shares some excellent strategies for helping children cope with back-to-school anxiety.
Here are some additional resources for back to school that you might find helpful:
- 14 Back-to-School Self Care Tips Coachella Unincorporated (coachellaunincorporated.org)
- Back to School Self-Care for Parents – August can be a stressful time when getting ready for going back to school. Discover some self-care tips to make the transition easier for everyone. (mhcd.org)
- 6 Back-to-School Self-Care Tips for Moms – Get Healthy U – Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to chaos; learn self-care tips for busy moms to make the back-to-school transition easier on everyone. (gethealthyu.com)
- How to Practice Self-Care When You Return to School – It’s important to remember the time you spend on and with yourself is valuable and essential to your overall well-being. (getschooled.com)
- Back-to-School Self-Care: Putting Your Oxygen Mask On First Pear Deck – There’s one element we often neglect while we’re focused on the well-being of our class: whether you’re teaching virtually, face to face, or in some combination, you’ll still need to check in with yourself. (peardeck.com)
Back to school time can be stressful for students, parents and teachers. However, being intentional about self-care during this time can help everyone be less stressed and more prepared to have a successful school year. While it is very normal to experience stress and anxiety, there are so many tools and resources to help you deal with your fears. Being mindful of your feelings and taking an active role in overcoming the negative feelings is crucial to maintaining your mental health.
Don’t miss out on the excitement of back-to-school time by allowing those negative feelings and emotions to overwhelm you. Take care of yourself so that you can find joy in the newness of back-to-school.
Read Next: Self-Care for Teachers