Feb 18, 2023


How to Reduce Stress as a Teacher at the End of a Long Week

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and burned out, don’t worry - there are steps you an take to reduce your stress! In this episode,  I'm going to be answering an Ask BIT question, and I have to be honest with you, this question didn’t actually come from an Ask BIT submission.  This question actually came from a comment on one of my posts on Instagram that I posted a few weeks ago. I was asked: 


How do you decompress from a long week? 


To answer this question, I’m going to share with you why I feel decompressing is so incredibly important when it comes down to how to reduce stress as a teacher, as well as why a lot of us teachers don't do it. And then I’ll share with you just some of the things that I do to decompress, either at the end of the day or at the end of a long week, that you can use as inspiration to choose what works best for you when it comes to decompressing.   


Why Decompression is Important

Before we get into how to reduce stress as a teacher, we first need to talk about why decompressing - not just at the end of a long week but at the end of every day - is so incredibly important. There's actually a lot of research done on the importance of decompression and relaxation. According to the research I’ve done, it prevents heart disease, lowers your risk of stroke, and prevents you from getting sick (which is something that I’ve struggled with!).  Decompressing/relaxing at the end of the day/week also can help you control your appetite (think about the number of times you stress or eat out of boredom), lessen your chance of depression, and can make you more productive! 

I sometimes cringe at the cliche statements like “We have to recharge our batteries” or “We have to fill our own cup” or “We have to put our own mask on first”, but that is where this idea of decompression comes from. Decompression/relaxation is that type of self-care that many people can benefit from, but there is no “formula” for how to do it because it really is dependent on what YOU enjoy and what will recharge YOUR batteries.  


Why Teachers Don’t Take Time to Decompress

So, we know that decompressing/relaxation is important for our overall mental health, our productivity, and our overall physical wellness, so why don't teachers take time to decompress at the end of the day or at the end of the week? To answer this, I’m going to read for you an “Overcoming Pushback” from my book Hacking Teacher Burnout. These sections are at the end of every hack, and I really love these pushbacks because typically they have to do with the things that we're telling ourselves, not necessarily what other people are giving us pushback about.

This is from page 134: 

If I'm not busy, then I'm lazy. That's a lie you're telling yourself because our cultural norm is to be 100 percent booked. When we wear our busyness and exhaustion as a badge of honor, we may find ourselves humble-bragging about how much work we've done for the PTO cookie drive or how exhausted we are from staying up until 2 AM gluing googly eyes on paper plates for our students’ Grandparents Day projects. Our choice? Yes.  Necessary? I'll let you answer that. 

Just as I described in Hack 2, you get to choose how you talk to yourself. And in Hack 3, I encourage you to pay attention to the way you view your reality.  You get to decide the truth. 

Whether or not you're telling yourself that you're too busy to take time to decompress or that you’re being lazy, both of those beliefs are a choice. And as you all know, choices can be changed.  My hope is that knowing why making the time for decompressing/relaxation is important, will be your “why” for making time for it in your life.  

I’ve read different articles that I’ve read on relaxation/decompressing, and several of them shared research that suggests that we should be decompressing or relaxing for at least an hour a day.  I get it, for some that is a long time, so here’s what I want to tell you - you don’t have to start with an hour. If you’re having guilty or stressed about relaxing (that’s a bit of an oxymoron…) you can start with just 10 minutes.  The point is that you are taking some time to take care of yourself.  


Things I do to Decompress/Relax

When I’m taking time to decompress at the end of the day, my number one habit that I’m building into my routine is putting my phone away by 7:30. This really helps me to focus on other things like hanging out with my daughter, hanging out with Jeff, perhaps watching some TV (Jeff and I have been obsessed with The Last of Us recently), or going for a walk. 

Another way I love to decompress is on my drive home.  I have about a 25-minute drive home, which I understand is a bit of a luxury because it gives me the time and space that I need to decompress.  One thing I do on my way home is listening/respond to the Marco thread’s that I’m involved in. Marco Polo is a video chat app, sort of like a video walkie-talkie.  Currently, I have several going on: I have a couple with my siblings, several with different friends, and a couple of group threads.  Nothing makes me feel better than when I get into my car after a long day and I have a bunch of Marcos from my friends or family members.  Being able to see their faces and listening to them telling me about their day or ask questions really decompresses me.  And I get it, for some people, this might not be a great option for you because maybe you need to sit in silence or listen to music.  

Having interests outside of school is another way that I decompress.  I’m really interested in health and wellness, so there might be a podcast episode that I’m listening to, a YouTube video I found, or perhaps even a book that I’m listening to on Blinkist or even Audible.  For me, decompressing can be learning about something that interests me, because that gets my focus off of school, especially after a challenging day, and it reinvigorates me.  I just really love learning about things outside of teaching.  

I also like to decompress by exercising.  During the winter months, I go for walks with Jeff - we typically don’t run or bike - but getting outside even if it’s dark to get fresh air is really decompressing for us. During that time, we get to connect and talk about our day, and the future, or sometimes we don’t say anything.  

Those are all things that I do to decompress daily, but I also have things that I do to decompress at the end of the week.  On Fridays, I really don’t like to go out and do things (but somethings things are unavoidable).  My favorite thing to do on a Friday night is to put on my pajamas, sit on the couch, and order takeout - we order from our favorite Vietnamese restaurant or order pizza.  Typically on a Friday evening, after a long week, all I want to do is chill and not do much of anything. 


The point that I wanted to make from this episode is that decompressing, just like your burnout journey, is yours.  There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to do it, you just have to make time for it.  

I alluded to this earlier, but the research says you need to build relaxation into your schedule.  If you don't make it part of your schedule and make the time, you’re never going to have the time.  Make relaxation a priority every day.  You don’t have to start with an hour, you can start with just 10 minutes and give yourself permission to do something that relaxes or energizes you. Then, build onto that when possible.  That - to me - is a win!  

And  I get it, we (teachers) are a community of overachievers and we tell ourselves,  if the researchers say one hour, then it has to be one hour.  That’s just a story you’re telling yourself.  

Decompression is important, and you are worthy and capable of making decompression and rest a priority in your life.  I also have several resources inside my TPT store that will help you to build decompression and rest into your schedule - The Priority Planning Guide and the Time Budgeter Worksheet. Both of these resources are doing to be really helpful for you in making time for the things that matter most. 

You are worthy and you are capable of decompression. I really truly believe that it’s available to all of us, but sometimes have to be creative about how we do it. 

I want to hear from you! Reach out to me on Instagram (@burnedinteacher) or inside of The Burned-In Teacher Podcast Facebook Community and share your favorite strategies for decompressing and resting either after a day of teaching or at the end of a long week. 



  1. Create a routine for your drive home.  Maybe you call a friend or family member, listen to your favorite songs, or even just sit in silence. 
  2. Find something that brings you joy outside of teaching. 
  3. Get your Time Budgeter Worksheet and Priority Planning Guide resource to make the time and plan for your rest and relaxation. 








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