Back to School Wellbeing: 3 R’s for Teachers, Students and Parents

Published by Annie Barrett: 
August 23, 2022

Back to School Wellbeing: 3 R’s for Teachers, Students and Parents

Late August is here and it’s back to school time for teachers, students and parents.

I hope you made the time to fill up your cup this summer and rejuvenate yourself. The trick now is to keep your cup filled!

With this in mind, I offer you the following formula to help you prioritize your wellbeing: 3 R’s for Wellbeing: Reflect. Release. Recharge. These ideas come from an article on teacher self-care written by Dr. Charmain Jackman. I have taken Jackman’s idea’s and expanded on them here.


To reflect is to take the time to check in with yourself. Self-reflection is an act of mindfulness and self-compassion. To self-reflect is to become aware of your bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts. As Dr. Charmain Jackman says, “Reflection is “necessary to fostering emotional wellness as it allows us to avoid unhealthy patterns and live a fulfilling and authentic life.” 

The goal of reflection is to get in touch with how you are feeling so that you can make choices to take care of yourself. You may choose to do this during a pause in the day, such as lunch time, or you may choose to do this at the end of your work or school day.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How am I feeling right now? 
  • What has been challenging today? 
  • What has been positive today?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What do I need to take care of myself at this time?


Release is the process of letting go of any negative feelings, thoughts or emotions you may be carrying in your body and mind. Stress is the body’s natural response to change and perceived threat. It is inevitable that you will encounter stress. The goal isn’t to not experience stress and negative feelings, but to handle these more effectively. The stress cycle is a biological process with a beginning, middle and end. You suffer when stress stays in the body and mind and is not released. 

Completing the stress cycle keeps you healthy. The goal is to be able to move all the way through the stress cycle and not get stuck in it. The ability to move through the stress cycle and return to equilibrium or homeostasis after a stress has passed is stress resilience

There are many evidence-based ways to release accumulated stress from the body and mind. 

Breathing practices

There are many breathing practices that help the body activate the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby helping the body and mind calm down. One of the easiest breathing techniques I use is 4:8 breathing. Breathe in for four counts, pause for four counts, and then to exhale for eight counts. The longer exhalation is effective in stimulating the vagus nerve, calming the body, and increasing heart rate variability, all of which are associated with lower stress levels, better overall health and improved cognition.

Physical Activity and Exercise 

All kinds of exercise and physical activity are reducing stress. Exercise boosts endorphins which improve your mood and help you return to homeostasis. The key is to build some kind of physical activity and exercise into your daily routine. This could be walking, jogging, dancing, yoga, biking, swimming, tai chi, or something else.

Positive social interactions

Humans are not made to “go it alone.” We are social creatures and we handle stress better when we have regular positive interactions with others. Positive social interactions reduce stress and improve cardiovascular health. Socializing increases hormones that decreases anxiety levels and make us feel more confident in our ability to cope with stressors

Positive physical touch

Physical touch increases levels of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, all of which help regulate the mood and help the body release stress hormones. Getting and giving hugs is a great way to get positive physical touch. Snuggling a pet also works. And, don’t forget that you can give yourself affectionate touch. Placing a hand on your heart and hand on your belly, or giving yourself a hug communicates care to yourself and is an effective way to self-soothe and destress.


Laughing enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. When you laugh, your body first amps up and then cools down which increases and then decreases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result of this is a good relaxed feeling in the body. 


Young children cry easily and yet teens and adults often suppress crying. However, crying can have a self-soothing effect on the body and mind and can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. A good cry reduces stress by and decreases levels of cortisol in the body.


Being creative can increase positive emotions, lessen depressive symptoms, reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and even improve immune system functioning. There is an incredible range of what can be called “creative” today including playing music, doing art, writing code, cooking, sewing, knitting, decorating the house, gardening, doing crossword puzzles, doing coloring books and even doodling. 

What does release feel like? 

Your body will tell you. While it can differ from person to person, once you've completed the stress cycle, you'll experience a settling or downshift in the body, a deepening of breathing, a relaxation of the muscles, a feeling of settledness or grounded-ness in the body.


Recharging is filling up your cup and engaging in self-care. This looks different for different people and that’s OK!

Ways to recharge include:

  • Eating high quality whole food to fuel your body and brain.
  • Refreshing yourself with mini breaks throughout the day.
  • Spending quality time with special people.
  • Winding down with calming activities after work or school.
  • Taking time to relax and prioritizing your sleep.
  • Feeding your spiritual self with activities that bring meaning and peace to your life.
  • Doing more of what brings you joy.

Taking time to recharge each day helps you keep your cup from emptying. Taking extra time to recharge on the weekends and during holiday breaks helps you fill your cup to the brim.

Your wellbeing matters!

When you prioritize your wellbeing, everyone wins!

Making time to reflect, release, and recharge daily and weekly is a sure formula to keep your cup filled this school year!


Jackman, Charmain. “The 3 R’s for Teacher Self-Care.” Voices in Education. 01 June. 2022,