Teachers are unsung heroes in our society. Their tireless dedication to nurturing the minds of our children is incredibly noble. But it comes at a price.
Teacher self-care is often neglected and a hot topic in the media. Educators know they should care for themselves but the demands of their profession leaves them little time to prioritize their own needs.
Here we explore a simple way to incorporate an element of teacher self-care through coloring pages.
Why Coloring Pages are Used for Teacher Self-Care
When I’m feeling stressed and burnt out, there are several things I feel help me to relax and rejuvenate. Coloring is one of them.
When life is challenging, I find some beautiful coloring pages, whip out my pencils and lose myself in this relaxing activity.
Coloring helps me to forget my worries as I concentrate on selecting and applying colors to make a gorgeous piece of art. I like to listen to calming or upbeat music to help clear my head and can't wait to see how it turns out.
Though I only forget about my worries for a short time, it's enough to calm my emotions and clears my head for a fresh perspective. I can literally feel my shoulders relaxing and my breathing slow. It's amazing how different I feel when I take some time to relax.
Coloring is so simple and inexpensive. I can get started whenever I like without having to prepare, book a session, or block out too much time.
What are the Benefits of Mindful Coloring for Teacher Self-Care?
Adult coloring is a popular therapeutic activity. It's shown to have a calming and relaxing effect on the mind to reduce stress and increase happiness. Coloring stimulates the brain's reward center to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is associated with motivation, creativity, pleasure, and positive emotions.
In the UK, teachers participated in a study for 5-days to determine if coloring was a useful tool for teacher self-care.
They were part of a daily mindfulness coloring or a control group who continued their work as usual. The mindfulness coloring group showed significantly lower levels of stress, depressive symptoms, burnout, and anxiety.
Researchers found increased levels of resilience and mindfulness supports the use of coloring “to significantly enhance levels of wellbeing in teachers”. They concluded that mindfulness-based coloring could be used as a self-help tool to improve levels of overall wellbeing.
How I Selected the Words for These Beautiful Coloring Pages
I want to explain why I chose the words I added to these coloring pages. As I sat and thought about things that help me feel better, I wrote a list of 14 words that I feel have the most impact on my wellbeing.
Deep breathing techniques are safe and easy to use. Studies show they can have significant benefits for both mental health and physical wellbeing. Deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing enables greater air flow through your body. This can help calm your nerves, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep.
It has physical benefits as it can lower blood pressure, improve lung function, and reduce pain. Regular deep breathing exercises can also improve focus and enhance clarity of thought. This makes it a valuable tool for managing challenging situations.
Another benefit is you only need 5-10 minutes of breathing to start a regular self-care practice.
An article in Scientific America documents these quick and easy breathing techniques:
Stand Up Straight
Posture is important for breathing: hold yourself straight, without stiffness, shoulders back, sitting or standing. This body posture facilitates the free play of the respiratory muscles (of the diaphragm and between the ribs). Good posture enables your body to breathe properly on its own.
Follow Your Breath
Simply observe your respiratory movements: be aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat or on the movements of your chest and belly. When you feel your thoughts drift (which is natural), redirect your attention to your breath.
Breathe “through your stomach” as much as possible: start by inflating your belly by inhaling, as if to fill it with air, then swell your chest; as you exhale, first “empty” your stomach, then your chest. This type of breathing is easier to observe and test while lying down, with one hand on your stomach.
Near the end of each inhalation, pause briefly while mentally counting “1, 2, 3” and holding the air before exhaling. This counting while not breathing can also be done after exhaling or between each inhalation or exhalation. It is often recommended for anxious patients to calm anxiety attacks because it induces a beneficial slowing of the breathing rate.
Breathe in and out slowly through one nostril, holding the other one closed using your finger; then reverse and continue by alternating regularly.
There are many variations of this exercise—for example, inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other. Research suggests that what is most important, aside from slowing the breathing rhythm, is breathing through the nose, which is somewhat more soothing than breathing through your mouth.
Think Reassuring Thoughts While Breathing
With each breath, think soothing thoughts (“I am inhaling calm”). With each exhalation, imagine that you are expelling your fears and worries (“I am exhaling stress”).
Let’s face it, just saying the word makes you feel more relaxed. When you include it in an affirmation, it can have a calming effect by focusing your attention on a state of tranquility and relaxation.
Positive affirmations are powerful statements. They can help replace negative thoughts or beliefs to help you focus on positive emotions and mindset. When you repeat affirmations that include the word "calm," such as "I am calm and at peace," or "I choose to be calm in challenging situations," you are making a conscious decision to direct your thoughts toward a state of calmness.
Rest is often seen as something “old people” need but the truth is that everyone benefits from resting their mind and body.
Allowing our body to rest gives it a chance to repair and heal. This is important for our physical health and our immune system.
But your body isn't the only thing that needs to rest. Our mind also benefits greatly when we take a break. Teachers give their students brain breaks in class because it allows them to reset so they can keep going. Adults need these as well.
We all know that sitting too long is bad for our health. We are designed to move so exercise is crucial to maintain both mental and physical health. Exercising releases natural mood enhancers called endorphins. They can increase feelings of happiness and reduce stress and anxiety.
Exercise is important for managing weight, improving cardiovascular health, and strengthening muscles and bones. It helps us look and feel better which improves confidence and self-esteem.
Science shows that feeling connected to others is so important for mental health and wellbeing. Being loved and part of a community helps us feel like we belong and have a support system. This is essential for reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
On a scientific level, you might have heard that love releases a chemical in the brain called oxytocin. This can have a positive effect on emotional, cognitive, and social behavior. Low levels of oxytocin are associated with anxiety, stress, and depression. So having family, friends, and colleagues who make you feel loved is an essential ingredient for wellbeing.
I’m going to tell you about the benefits of sunshine in a moment but just close your eyes for a moment and imagine the sun is warming your face. You can immediately feel the benefits of being in sunlight. It instantly makes you feel happier.
Sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D which is essential for bone health, immune function, and healthy levels of serotonin. Sunlight can improve your happiness, reduce symptoms of depression, and promote better sleep.
I feel good when I’m outside. The older I get, the more I appreciate nature and the way it impacts health and healing. There are so many benefits to being outdoors it’s hard to list them all but to sum it up, nature helps to restore your “zen”.
Spending time in nature has many mental health and physical wellbeing benefits. Being in natural environments can reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Nature helps to promote relaxation, improve cognitive function, and enhance mood.
I don’t need to tell you how crappy you can feel when you haven’t slept well. Quality sleep is essential to stay alert and keep your body in top condition.
During sleep, your body repairs and rejuvenates itself. Sleep improves immune function, memory, and emotional regulation. Sufficient quality sleep is essential as it improves cognitive function, concentration, and decision-making abilities.
When was the last time you had a good belly laugh? You could feel it doing you good, right?
A good, deep laugh sends oxygen to the heart, lungs, and muscles to help them relax and heal. Believe it or not, it also helps tighten your abs because it gives your insides a good workout and can even relieve pain.
Laughing can trigger a release of endorphins in the brain to decrease your body’s stress response. It can lower blood pressure and give you a more positive outlook.
The other wonderful thing about laughter is that it improves social connections and it’s contagious. Give it a try and see how many people start to smile or laugh with you.
Meditation isn’t always easy and that’s why I like mindful coloring. It’s an activity where I get the benefits of meditation without having to be quiet and sit still!
Meditation has several benefits for mental health and wellbeing. Participating in a regular meditation practice reduces stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. It promotes a sense of calmness, improves focus, and enhances self-awareness.
Like laughing, meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and strengthen the immune system. Add to that better sleep, greater emotional resilience, and a positive mindset, it’s something we should all incorporate into our daily routine.
There’s something about getting creative that fills my cup! Creative activities such as art, music, or writing can have such a positive effect on mental health. Being able to express yourself creatively allows you to process emotions while reducing stress and boosting self-esteem.
Immersing yourself in a creative activity is another form of mindfulness that helps you to relax and stay positive.
Taking a few minutes to be grateful allows you to recognize and appreciate the positive aspects of life. It takes the focus off things that feel overwhelming or out of your control. This helps to shift your thought process from the glass being half empty to being half full. Counting your blessings is an important thing to do during stressful times and it can be done quickly and easily.
Try sitting for a few minutes and saying 3 things you are grateful for today or get yourself a journal and start to write them down. It’s nice to be able to go back and read old entries to see how your mindset changes and to remember the happy times.
We’ve all heard it but how many of us do it? It’s not easy to maintain a sense of balance but crucial for both mental health and physical wellbeing. Trying to juggle all the things can lead to teacher burnout. Try to be more aware of where you focus your energy to ensure you are allowing some time for yourself.
Relationships are so important. They provide you with companionship and support which are essential elements of wellbeing. Connecting with others provides a sense of purpose, meaning, fulfillment and satisfaction.
But like everything worth having in life, they need to be nurtured. Weeks or even months can easily slip by without contact with my bestie, so please make time for the important people in their life.
Download Your Free Wellbeing Coloring Pages
Creating coloring pages is another thing that helps me to relax. I love putting the designs together knowing that I can inspire others to take a break and relax.
Download your sample pages and notice how coloring makes you feel. Shoot me an email to let me know if mindfulness coloring pages are something you'll add to your teacher self-care toolbox. I'd love to see some photos too because I always marvel at how different the same coloring pages turn out.