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Have Something to Look Forward To: Schedule Joy

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Guest post by Ginger Welch, PhD, author of How Can I Help: A Teacher’s Guide to Early Childhood Behavioral Health, about how educators can practice self-care and find ways to de-stress. Use this downloadable activity to practice self-care today!


What was the last thing you looked forward to? Was it something big, such as a day off, a vacation, or a major purpose? Milestones matter in our lives, and we should enjoy the important memories they make. But for most of us, these major events simply do not come along often enough! You would not go a week without eating just so you could enjoy one meal or go a month without sleeping just so you could enjoy one nap. Your emotional health should not depend on few-and-far-between events, either.

Instead of focusing solely on big rewards or vacations, think about the concepts of pleasure, joy, and peace. Now think about finding moments of those emotions in your life every day. Yes, every day! For most of us, that is an incredible goal in our stress-filled lives, and we can only achieve it by working purposefully on it.


Teacher Task #1: Your Simple Joys

The first step in finding daily pleasure, joy, and peace is to spend some time reflecting on what brings you those emotions. For example, I made this list of simple activities that bring me joy:

  • Eating dark chocolate
  • Playing a game on my phone
  • Watching my favorite TV show
  • Looking at memes online
  • Planning for Christmas
  • Organizing art supplies
  • Making quilt squares
  • Drinking chai
  • Scrapbooking
  • Meeting friends for coffee

Now make your own list of activities that bring you pleasure, joy, or peace. How many of these do you think you could schedule into your life next week?

Guidelines for Scheduled Joy 

As you implement scheduled joy (or pleasure or peace) into your life, remember these guidelines:

  • Avoid making plans that depend entirely on other people or their schedules.
  • The simpler the plan, the better. 
  • Time matters, but so does quality. No multitasking allowed!
  • Start low and slow. 
  • It may work better to combat stress in small increments throughout the day than to save everything up for the end.
  • Use a variety of self-care methods.
  • Be present when you engage in a small joy. 


Teacher Task #2: Time “Thief”

Your task is to steal back one hour of your life this week… in five-minute increments! That makes twelve opportunities this week to take care of yourself.

Fill out each row in this downloadable chart to plan what you will do and when you will do it.  Once you complete an item, check it off in the “Done!” Column to celebrate your success!




Material from How Can I Help: A Teacher’s Guide to Early Childhood Behavioral Health by Ginger Welch, PhD (pages 114-116), ISBN 978-0-87659-833-7.