Prevent School Counselor Burnout with Self-Care

Self-care can seem like a pipe dream when school counselors are stretched to the max at the end of the school year.

As summer break approaches, educators can find themselves mentally tapped out and questioning their ability to make it through the last 15 days with their sanity intact.

Rather than go through all of the forces that seem to suck the life out of us as the school year dwindles, let’s skip to some ideas about how we can keep our cool even when the weather is sweltering!


Activate Your Force Field of Positivity

Misery loves company is an adage tends to be alive and well, especially in the teachers’ lounge and copy room. Nobody wants to be the only one complaining.

In an effort to feel a sense of normalcy with their negative thoughts, negative people will try to pull you into their complaints/issues.

Be wary of negative comments and probing questions that favor a negative response. It can be hard to not get sucked up into the momentum of negative discussions.

Understanding what others are going through and displaying empathy comes naturally to school counselors and many teachers. However, surrounding yourself or becoming involved in the negativity can make it difficult to keep a positive outlook.


Here’s a good analogy:

There’s an apartment complex in town. All ten apartments have been rented out to responsible and considerate neighbors. They say hello to each other, open the door for one another, and keep the loud noises to a minimum. Overall, it’s a pretty nice place to live.

After a while, one of the residents moves out and someone else moves in. This person isn’t as kind or helpful as the previous resident.

In fact, he parks in the handicap spot without a permit. He litters all over the place and laughs when his large dog growls and snaps at you.

How do you think the actions of this new resident affect the atmosphere of the apartment complex? Would you want to live next door to the negative tenant? How long do you think it will take before some of the tenants find a better place to live?

Our thoughts are very similar to the tenets in the story above. Our brains are not able to hold two competing viewpoints. In order to make sense of opposing thoughts (think good versus bad), our brain tries to find a middle ground of sorts to reduce what’s called cognitive dissonance.

Here’s a great TED Video about how cognitive dissonance affects how we think and form opinions and beliefs.


I call it “poisoning the well” or “poisoning the Kool-Aid”. A little bit (and especially a lot) of negativity can have devastating effects on a community. The school environment is no exception.

Inoculate yourself by spending time with uplifting people.


Avoid the teachers’ lounge and workroom as much as possible. Invite a co-worker to eat lunch with you in your room. It would be fun to have lunch with as many different people as possible! You could even have an icebreaker or Minute-to-Win-It game during your luncheons!!! 🙂

Be the Goodwill Ambassador

Two years ago, one of my principals set up a corn hole competition are required everyone (including support staff) to participate.

We had a school bracket and leaderboards. We were all feeling grumpy and were skeptical at first…It was great! Lots of laughs and great memories. 🙂

There are tons of great ideas for staff appreciation on Pinterest.

Pamper yourself!

I love the feel of a new haircut and the way a fresh coat of polish looks…especially when they are fun styles! You can find tons of cute styles on Pinterest. (Can you tell I like Pinterest? Follow me for all things school counseling and elementary education here!)

Take Care of Your Mental Health

I’m not gonna lie…this time of year is VERY stressful for teachers and school counselors. Be sure to practice good mental health and seek assistance from a professional mental health provider if you experience a great amount of distress.

If you are reading this and contemplating if you should talk to someone, I highly recommend that you do. It couldn’t hurt anything and more than likely it will help.

What do you do to help save your sanity at the end of the year? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!




2 responses to “Prevent School Counselor Burnout with Self-Care”

  1. phyllislKahn Avatar

    Get a massage. Go out with fun teachers or friends that make you laugh!! Think positive ..the end is almost near !! Think of all the fun things you will be doing soon!!

    1. Heather Avatar

      Laughter is definitely the best medicine! Looking forward to new adventures is always a great way to change your frame of mind. 🙂

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