Emotional Self-Regulation Strategies for Teachers

13th January 2024

Teaching is an immensely rewarding but also highly demanding and stressful profession. The pressures of lesson planning, behavior management, meetings, grading, and supporting students can take a major toll on teachers’ emotional wellbeing. Learning to effectively manage your emotions is essential for maintaining motivation, engagement, health, and effectiveness as a teacher. Here are some key emotional regulation training strategies teachers can utilize: 

Practice mindfulness techniques. 

Mindfulness involves maintaining present-moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a non-judgmental manner. Take brief mindfulness breaks during the day. Focus your attention fully on your breathing, do a short guided meditation, or slowly scan your body from head to toe, noticing any tension. This will calm you and center you. 

Step away when needed. 

When you feel extremely frustrated or upset during the day, step out of the classroom for a few moments when possible. Even just walking down the hall or getting a drink of water can help diffuse the situation. Have a predetermined signal to summon support from a colleague if needed. 

Talk through it. 

Verbalizing thoughts and feelings can help process and defuse them. Set up a buddy system with a fellow teacher so you have someone empathetic to talk to during stressful points in the day. Just be careful not to participate in venting sessions that increase negativity. 

Write reflectively 

Keep a journal to express worries, celebrate successes, or process challenging interactions after school or on weekends. Reflective writing is therapeutic and insightful. Identify patterns in triggers or reactions you want to improve. 

Adopt a growth mindset. 

View challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth, not as poor reflections on you. Stay solution-focused. Avoid dwelling on the negatives. Model resilience and optimism for students. 

Take care of your body. 

Make sure to eat nutritious foods, avoid too much caffeine and sugar, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. Exercise, take walks outside, and build in brief rejuvenating breaks. Feeling physically good promotes emotional balance. 

Leave work at work.

Resist grading papers or planning lessons after hours or on weekends. Build in genuine downtime after work and on weekends to refresh. Make time for self-care, relationships, and fun. Don’t let teaching consume your whole life. 

Practice gratitude 

Keep a gratitude journal or take time each day to reflect on at least three things you are grateful for. This focuses the mind on the positive versus the stressful or disappointing. Gratitude boosts resilience. 

Get organized 

Disorganization breeds frustration and burnout. Use checklist templates for routines like transitioning to recess or starting class. Keep materials neatly organized. Set reminders for meetings and deadlines. 

Listen to music. 

Curate playlists for Pump Up Songs to invigorate you and Calm Down Songs for unwinding. Listen during prep time or while students are working independently. Music’s effects on mood can regulate emotions. 

Laugh and smile. 

Look for humor during the day and laugh. Share amusing stories from the classroom with colleagues. Even forced laughter leads to genuine positive feelings over time due to brain chemistry changes. 

Socialize and collaborate 

Loneliness takes a toll. Make time for positive interactions with colleagues, even just having lunch together. Collaboration and brainstorming provide social support. 

Set limits with parents. 

Politely redirect parents who try to conference at inappropriate times or drone on. Set boundaries around responsiveness to non-urgent emails or calls during off-hours. Don’t let others control your time and emotions. 

Take mini-vacations 

Recharge with periodic long weekends and breaks from school. Shift your mindset completely away from teaching to hit reset buttons emotionally. Come back refreshed and reinspired.

Seek expertise if needed. 

There is no shame in seeking counseling if burnout, secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, anxiety, or depression develop. Teachers face heavy emotional demands. Get support. 


By proactively caring for both your emotional needs and your students’ needs, you will be a healthier, more effective, and more resilient teacher over the long haul. Prioritize daily self-care strategies, social support, and reflective practices to master your emotions amidst the inevitable stresses of this vital profession. Your influence is immense; be kind to yourself.