To put it mildly, teachers have done the impossible in the past couple years—and they need resources and strategies to cope with high stress levels

10 SEL activities teachers can use to manage stress levels

To put it mildly, teachers have done the impossible in the past couple years—and they need resources and strategies to cope with high stress levels

Educators, last year was tough. You are truly rock stars for getting your students (and yourselves) through a difficult year. This year will likely bring about new challenges and obstacles, and we know at times you will feel stressed.

When not addressed, stress can lead to harmful health concerns like anxiety and depression, reduced attention, impaired self-regulation, and decreased learning readiness. It can also lead to negative well-being factors, such as sleep and eating disorders. Extended exposure to toxic stress also can have lasting mental and physical health effects.

Be proactive about keeping your stress levels in check with these 10 de-stressing activities.

1. Identify your stress triggers.

Make a list of all the stressors in your life, noting those you have control over and those you do not. Are your biggest stressors long hours, watching too much news media, or frustrations around school policies? Begin tackling the list by choosing one or two items you have some control over that cause you the most stress. Make a plan to manage the stressor(s), write down a goal, and create accountable measures to help you follow through.

Why it works: Knowing your stress triggers and having a plan to cope is an important step in managing your stress. When you are faced with a trigger, you will be much better equipped to deal with the stress before it becomes overwhelming.

2. Do deep breathing exercises.

Try the equal breaths exercise. Breathe in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, and breathe out for a count of four. Continue this for a few rounds, and then try adding an extra count (in for a count of five, hold for a count of five, and out for a count of five). You can continue this exercise until you feel your stress levels decreasing and your heart rate slowing.

Why it works: Clinical research shows that regular deep breathing exercises can have immediate results. Deep breathing reduces the production of harmful stress hormones and helps your body relax. This can be useful when you experience a stressful moment during your day. It also has long-term benefits for your heart, brain, digestion, and immune system.

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