Teacher Appreciation Week and Teacher Self Care

In addition to the work of educating students, adult literacy educators are often called upon to provide a listening ear to students.  If students experience traumatic events and share them with an instructor, the instructor could experience secondary trauma stress, also known as compassion fatigue.  Symptoms can include  fatigue or illness, cynicism, irritability, reduced productivity, feelings of hopelessness, anger, despair, sadness, feelings of re-experiencing of the event, nightmares, anxiety, avoidance of people or activities, or persistent anger and sadness(Siegfried, 2008 & Conrad)


  1. Set boundaries- Disconnect from work at some point in your day.
  2. Get sleep- Rest supports your immunity and brain function.
  3. Eat healthfully- Good nutrition supports your mental and physical health.
  4. Get moving- Moving just 30 minutes a day releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones). 
  5. Journal – Writing your thoughts and feelings can help you identify what you feel, and provides a safe outlet for processing thoughts and feelings. 
  6. Practice mindfulness- Take a moment in the middle of the day to do breathing exercises to anchor yourself to the present moment.  For example, you can inhale through your nose for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts, and exhale through your nose for 4 counts.
  7. Practice Gratitude- Think of one thing that you are grateful for at the end of the day. Gratitude promotes a positive mindset and can reduce stress and anxiety.
  8. Prioritize self-care- Set timers if you need a reminder to take some time for yourself.
  9. Recognize when something is not in your control- As much as we would like to be all things to all people, we cannot be.  Sometimes the best help you can give a student is to connect them to a community partner who is better positioned to help them.
  10. Seek professional support- There is no shame in getting help with processing your emotions with a professional, or with using medication to feel healthy.