Taking time for yourself: a how-to guide for the weary

Fall is the perfect time to take a day (or even a week) to enjoy the things that refuel you and bring you happiness. We highly recommend taking time for yourself whenever you need it, but if you’re feeling nervous about it: we’re here for you. 

Are we seriously suggesting you take a day off from teaching? When you’re not even sick? For no reason but to enjoy yourself? Yes, we are. 

Teaching is a very emotionally and physically demanding job. You get personal days in most places for a reason.  One single day off can quite possibly keep you in the classroom for months, even years to come. 

Take a day off. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your students and colleagues. 

It gets easier every time you take a day for you. Those chiding voices attempting to guilt you into working yourself to the bone, quiet down a little bit every time you enjoy a day for just you. 

Ok, now that we’ve sold you on valuing yourself, let’s tackle those pesky questions of doubt. How do I take a day off? What would I do with the time? 

Here’s your plan for taking the day(s) off:


Steps to taking that time 

  1. Put in for that day. Pick a day out and just put it into your substitute system. You can always cancel it later (but really, don’t do that: you deserve some time for you).
  2. Put that day off on your calendar.
  3. Book yourself some activities for that day (or days) off. If you need more inspiration, see below 🙂 
  4. Call in your team for support. Tell them about your interest in taking a day. Let their support and encouragement wash over you. They know you deserve it too. Reboot. Refuel. 
  5. Make your sub plans for that day.
  6. Consider taking two days instead of one depending on how you’re feeling. If burn out is starting, take two days. Your immune system and happiness levels will both thank you. 
  7. When you start to doubt your ability to take the day, and start prioritizing your to do list over your own needs and health: send out the bat signal to your tribe/community. Let them swoop in with that support again. It’s okay to ask for encouragement and support. You’d be there for them too. My guess is: you already are. 
  8. Repeat this mantra: I am worthy I am valuable. I deserve to take care of me. 
  9. Enjoy your day(s) off! 🙂 

Ok, now you have the day off! Excellent! What should you do with it? 

We have some suggestions and we’ve broken them into those that cost money and those that are free.

Illustration by Courtnay Hough

Things to do with that time that cost $$$ but are so worth it 

  • Set up a lunch date or happy hour with a friend.
  • Plan a trip. Even day trips can be a blast. Research a little what fun activities are near you.
  • Take yourself shopping (even to a thrift store) and buy something fun for yourself.
  • Go to a movie.
  • Plan a staycation. Book an affordable room in or near your city. That way, you don’t spend your time off doing chores around the house and running errands. Maybe even invite a teacher friend (or a friend) to join you and split the cost. 🙂 
  • Go to an exercise class you love, that’s at a time you can’t usually make it.
  • Go to a local zoo, botanical garden, or art museum.
  • Book a massage for yourself.
  • Take yourself out to brunch, or lunch (you know if you want to sleep in).
  • Go on an adventure! Find something in your area you never tried before, like a rock wall or a parkour gym.
  • Cook or bake a new recipe, or an old favorite you haven’t had time for. Extra points for visiting a grocery store you usually don’t go to (a local ethnic specific one).
  • Craft. Maybe you can crochet or make a birdhouse, use this time to commune with comfortable old skills. 

And for those who are not partying like a teacher rock-star our free options:


FREE things to do with that time

  • Take a hike or walk through a nice park or other nature area near you.
  • Sleep in.
  • Coloring/ painting/ drawing/ sculpting or generally zenning out with something artsy.  
  • A Long, luxurious bath, bubbles optional, but advised. 
  • Plan a walk or meetup/chat with a friend.
  • Take a nap.
  • Read a fun book.
  • Try meditating.
  • Find a park or venue with free live music or open mic/coffee shop.
  • Go to the public library.
  • Volunteer. Sometimes self care can come in the form of helping others in a different way. Packing a few meals at the food bank can be zen-like.
  • Exercise, ride a bike or take a run. 
  • Play a video game, new or old, tablet or console or other. Get lost in a digital world. (It’s on the free list because we assume you own this one, but if not, just mentally move this suggestion up to the money-costing list).
  • Journal or write for fun. 

These are just some suggestions to get you started though! What’s fun and rewarding for you may take an entirely different shape. Whatever it is, do and feel literally no shame doing it. 

Rinse and repeat. Any time you’re feeling low or worn down: come back to these simple steps and take that time for you. You deserve it. Your students deserve a healthy, happy you too 🙂

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