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5 Simple Self-Care Habits for Educators

NHA Communications Team  |  November 09, 2023
In the world of education, self-care isn't just an option; it's a necessity. Self-care is essential for educators to avoid burnout and provide the best support to their students.
Kara Plantinga is a member of the benefits team leading the well-being initiative at National Heritage Academies (NHA). Plantinga believes self-care is a way of preserving your well-being to better serve others. She said neglecting self-care could lead to resentment, burnout, and feeling drained. To address these concerns, Plantinga provided some simple ways for teachers to prioritize self-care.
1. Set Realistic Goals and Priorities
In the fast-paced world of education, it's easy to take on too much and lose focus on what truly matters. By setting achievable goals and knowing your priorities, you can make better choices about where to invest your time and energy. “Pick one thing that you want to do this week or today that's going to help take care of you,” said Plantinga. “It's important to prioritize what is important to you so that you can learn to say no to tasks that aren't on your priority list.”
2. Practice Gratitude
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Plantinga recommends practicing gratitude. “Set a pad of paper next to your bed. In the morning when you wake up, write down two things that you're grateful for today and two things right before you go to bed. Try to replay those items in your mind throughout the day.” By taking a moment to focus on what you're grateful for, you can shift your perspective toward the positive aspects of your life. These simple acts of gratitude can have a big impact on your overall well-being, helping you stay optimistic and centered.
3. Incorporate Exercise
Exercise is a critical component of self-care. Plantinga suggested working short bursts of physical activity into your daily routine. “Even small amounts of exercise can add up,” she said. “Why not take five minutes before the end of your break and go for a walk with another teacher before you head into the classroom? Then take five minutes at the end of the day after the students have left and go for a five-minute walk by yourself.” Numerous studies have shown even short walks throughout the week can boost your physical and mental health.
4. Try New Relaxation Activities
Plantinga also highlights the importance of trying new activities that help you unwind and de-stress. “There are all kinds of muscle relaxation and breathing exercise apps out there to try. I recommend five senses meditation on the NHA employee assistance benefits website. It’s only 10 minutes long.” She emphasized that it's essential to explore what works best for you, as self-care is a highly personal journey.
5. Don't Hesitate to Seek Help
Plantinga’s fifth and final self-care strategy is to never hesitate to reach out for help. Educators often put the needs of others before their own. Connecting with friends or family or going for a walk and talking about your challenges can provide much-needed support. Additionally, she pointed out that many educators have access to employee assistance programs, which offer professional counseling and guidance to help navigate difficult times.
While these are Plantinga’s top recommendations, there are many ways you can carve out a few minutes each day to focus on self-care. A couple of simple ideas: take a break from social media, pick up a good book, create a happy playlist, or organize a cluttered space. Plantinga emphasized, “Self-care can look different for everybody, so it’s a bit of a trial-and-error process figuring out what helps you.”
NHA employees can find a variety of employee assistance resources at, just click on the My Benefits icon. You can also call MetLife at 1-888-519-7819.

About National Heritage Academies:
National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of over 100 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit

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