The school year is in full swing, and as a teacher, there are lessons to plan, assignments to grade, paperwork, and e-mails… lots of e-mails.

If you are anything like me, the plan was for this semester to be different. Who am I kidding, every Sunday the plan is for this week to be different. This will be the week when I get sleep. This will be the week I eat healthy. The week I exercise every day. The week I enjoy time with my friends and family. This will be the week I achieve work-life balance.

Well, spoiler alert, while I have grown leaps and bounds: I’ve yet to have that week. Weeks like that cannot simply be willed into existence. You have to strategize: to make boundaries and stick to them; to let go of perfection; and you have to trust that even if you aren’t running yourself into the ground, you are doing the best you can. More importantly, you have to practice.

How do you take time for yourself when you’re responsible for 20, 30, maybe 40+ children? If there is barely time to sleep, how is there time to meditate or journal or do any of those practices that you know are good for you — that make your list of New Year’s resolutions but never quite become habits?

Start small & celebrate the wins.

You don’t have to revamp your lifestyle overnight. Pick one small practice that resonates with you — something that makes you feel light and happy and try it for a day. And, then two or three. Try it for a week. And, if you miss a day — and this is so important! — forgive yourself and let it go. Progress, not perfection. You can always start again.

Here are three simple shifts to help you move from burnt out to blissed out.

  1. Gratitude journaling. You can do this at home, or you could even involve your class. Take five minutes at the beginning of the day to make a list of 5 things in life you are grateful for. It can be as simple as oxygen, food, shelter. Or, maybe it is your friends and family or the incredible opportunity to change lives. You get what you focus on, and an attitude of gratitude will certainly set you and your students up for success.
  2. Adopt a mantra. What makes you feel worthy? Empowered? What would remind you how AMAZING you are in those moments when you are doubting yourself — those moments when you want to scream or cry? Get creative with it! Have fun. Be silly. Here are some of my go to’s: I am doing the best I can. I am exactly where I am meant to be. I am worthy and deserving of all the good that is out there. I make a difference just by showing up. I am a freaking rockstar.
  3. Let it go. At the end of the day, when you stop your work… let. it. go. Remind yourself that you showed up. No matter what doubts you are having: You did the best you could. Period. End of story. So, take a deep breathe and exhale the day. You can even say something like: “I am letting the day go now,” or, maybe you want to listen to your favorite song and literally shake the day off.

When you take care of yourself first, you are better able to serve others. Memorize it, write it on a post-it, write it on your wall, set it as a reminder on your phone. Question it. But, give it a try. This is the mindset that is going to change your world.

What small thing can you incorporate into your day to show yourself some extra TLC?

Originally published at


  • Kirsten Lee Hill, Ph.D.

    Researcher, Creative, Entrepreneur

    Kirsten Lee Hill, Ph.D. is an expert in creatively leveraging traditional research expertise to support community-driven change, and has worked with global leaders in innovation such as Virgin Unite and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Kirsten partners with people and organizations with inspiring ideas for how to change the world so they can leverage the powers of research and personal wellbeing to advance their cause. She also inspires changemakers to embrace gracefully breaking rules through her podcast, Graceful Rulebreakers.