Balancing Self-Care and Learning

Rachelle Dené PothBlog, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • It’s important to balance self-care and learning.
  • Understand that it’s okay to take a break.
  • Strategies to make your time for yourself include choosing one thing to start, celebrating, having a routine, finding time to relax and recharge, and disconnecting.

Balancing self-care and learning: It’s okay to take a break.

We’ve all heard about how nice it must be to have the “summer off.” However, the reality is that few educators take enough time off in the summer. For many educators, summer is a time to focus on some of the things that slipped by throughout the school year. Summer has always been a time to rest, a time to learn and prepare for the next school year.

Over the past two years, we experienced a lot of challenges and unknowns. As a result, these experiences led to exhaustion, less focus on self-care, and less balance in our lives. Educators invest themselves in others but have to remember the importance of self-care.  We should because focusing on self-care and taking a break is essential.

To bring our best selves to our classrooms and our schools, there has to be time set aside each day, even if only for a short period of time, where we focus on our own needs. Whether it is time spent with family and friends, enjoying a quick nap, going for a walk, or reading outside, these moments will make a difference. It’s great to get away on a vacation or perhaps plan a staycation and force ourselves to sleep in late.

Personally, I take advantage of a more relaxed schedule in the summer. I enjoy starting my day with a cup of coffee, a good book, and time reading on the deck with my phone hidden. Another benefit of summer is attending conferences like ISTE and connecting with other educators.

After having the 'summer off,' making the shift back into our daily school routine can be a challenge. The key is finding a way to still do ‘all the things’ while staying balanced and finding time to focus on our wellbeing. Click To Tweet

Creating Time for Ourselves 

It takes time to shift into a summer routine. I have found that once the end of June arrives, I am just starting to get into a more relaxed routine. It takes time to make the summer shift.  We get used to our summer routine and recharge but then we have to shift again. August arrives and we head back to our classrooms. Ideally, we are recharged and excited for the new school year but it can be easy to become burnt out again. Full of summer learning and we prepare to implement new ideas and strategies in our practice.

After having the “summer off,” making the shift back into our daily school routine can be a challenge. The key is finding a way to still do ‘all the things’ while staying balanced and finding time to focus on our wellbeing.

Finding Moments Every Day

Here are five ways to add in more time for you and to be more productive each day.

Choose one thing to start.

There are so many choices we have for activities that are worthwhile for our mental and physical well-being. Our days become quite full, and the worst thing we can do is overwhelm ourselves by trying to do everything. Some good advice I received from a friend is to simply choose one thing. Get outside and walk or and meet up with family and friends, whether once a week or as often as your schedule allows. Start with one activity per day that will be good for your well-being. 


Find a reason to celebrate something each day.  It can be something that happened in one of your classes. Plan something with or for your students. Or celebrate something new you learned and you’re validating your own efforts or maybe it’s just a random celebration. Focusing on positives will impact your well-being. Every step that we take toward achieving goals and celebrating some mistakes should be embraced. Embracing and modeling a celebration of learning, especially from failures, helps us to grow and has a positive impact on those we lead and learn with.

Have a routine.

One way to find balance is just by having a bit of consistency added in each day. Set aside a specific time to read or take a walk in the morning, listen to music, or respond to emails at a certain time. Planning a routine helps to balance a busy day. For example, I have found that having consistency in these activities during the day is one way to keep myself more focused and less stressed. 

Time to relax and recharge.

Movement is important but it’s also important that we get enough rest, especially when we have more time in our schedules. Educators work crazy hours sometimes. Starting early in the day and finishing late. We can’t bring our best selves to our classroom if we are exhausted. A lack of sleep and quality rest has a negative impact on us. It will not only negatively impact our mental and physical health, but it will impact students and colleagues too. We need to ensure time for resting and recharging each day.


This is a tough one! Technology has been great for keeping us connected and informed especially during the past two years. However, it also disconnects us from being truly present. It can lead to less personal connections, take away a lot of our time, and decrease our productivity. Whether you leave your device at home (something I cannot do) or mute notifications at specific times during the day, it’s important to take a break from the tech. We have to be fully present with family and friends. 

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Starting today, what changes will you make?

Think about which of the five might make a difference.

Ask yourself:

  1. How will you find some balance in your day?
  2. What strategies help you to focus on self-care and taking a break?
  3. Who can you support in the finding balance journey?

Be sure to share them with your network and keep on learning and growing together! Starting now, take a five-minute break. Step outside, dance in your kitchen, do a crossword, or just sit quietly. Five minutes to step away from work and catch your breath might just be enough for a start!

About Rachelle Dené Poth

Rachelle Dené Poth is an ed-tech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. She teaches Spanish and STEAM: Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, and the owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past -president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network.

At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. Named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers for 2021. Additionally, she is a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear, and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is the author of seven books about education and edtech. She is a Columnist for Defined Learning, Getting Smart, and NEO LMS and has her own podcast, ThriveinEDU.  Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Rdene915.