Teaching Tips Tuesday: Simple Ways to Relieve Stress While Teaching Abroad

A teacher feeling stressed and pulling her hair.

Teaching English abroad can be a very rewarding and transformative experience. Many of our Greenheart Travelers continue teaching overseas much longer than they planned, and others even end up redefining their career path or finding their calling as an educator.

Teaching abroad can also be quite stressful and frustrating at times. There are cultural differences and language barriers to deal with. And it involves a lot of learning as you go, especially if you haven’t had a chance to gain a TEFL certification before you go.

Here are a few tips to help you get through the tough days:

A teacher hiding under a desk.

1. Overcome your nervousness.

Sometimes the last thing you’re going to want to do is face your students. Perhaps it’s your first time in front of a class, maybe you haven’t fully prepared for a lesson, or you’re just not feeling well from something you ate the night before.



Find a moment to collect yourself, and begin your class by facilitating a centering activity.

It’s always a good idea to start with an active warm up. Chances are your students will also feel nervous about practicing English. When anxiousness abounds, overcome it through laughter and movement.

A teacher resting on a couch after school.

2. Seek out a community to be part of, and do fun activities together.

Some days it’s probably going to take a friend or two to pull you off the couch and out your door. Teaching can be exhausting, especially if you’ve had a particularly rough day. Thankfully, you’ll likely be placed in a city with other English teachers from all over the world, and one of the perks of teaching overseas is making life-long, international friends.

Seek out a community of locals and other foreigners to be part of, and do fun things together such as. Spending time with others is a huge stress reliever and a great way to boost morale.

A teacher feeling angry and journaling.

3. Blog about the good days and the bad days.

Dealing with cultural differences or trying to communicate through a language barrier is going to get to you. In fact, you may even feel downright angry about everything when it happens. Keeping a journal has been known to be an effective stress management tool for many.

  • Jot down some of your thoughts on paper
  • Ponder what’s causing you to feel how you feel in that moment
  • Acknowledge the negatives, but focus on the positives
  • Come up with proactive ways to respond what’s stressing you out
  • Then consider blogging about it

Blogging gives you the opportunity to be transparent about your overall experience, the good and the bad, and invites others to relate to and help you through the hard stuff.

Let us know if you want to blog about your teaching abroad experience while on one of our programs!

A teacher looking sad.

4. Stock up on motivational activities to keep your students engaged.

Avoid boring your students to sleep during lessons by keeping them entertained while improving their English skills. The more ideas you have up your sleeves, the better. Trying to think of activities on the spot can be highly stressful, and repeating games too many times (unless requested by your students) makes them less appealing.

We know it takes a long time to build a stash of exciting motivators, so here are lots of teaching tips to help you start stocking up!

A teacher excited for a long weekend.

5. Make the most of your time off. But, also rest.

Long weekends are the best, aren’t they? You’ll get three-day weekends in other countries, too. Likely for holidays you haven’t even heard of before. Making the most of extra time off doesn’t necessarily mean trekking all over the place, and then rolling into your first lesson right after hoping off an overnight bus.

Give yourself some cushion. Travel for two days, and leave the third one open to relax and prepare for the week ahead. Seems like common sense, right? But, when your time abroad seems limited, you’re going to want to see and do as much as possible.

Be intentional about getting enough rest.

“A challenge I hadn’t anticipated was dealing with burnout and not taking good care of myself mentally. For the first two months, I was bringing work home almost every night and traveling most weekends, so I never really gave myself a break or time to relax.” – Kara Menini, Greenheart Travel Program Manager and Teacher in Thailand

A teacher looking and feeling stressed.

Teaching abroad is the journey of a lifetime, complete with all sorts of ups and downs along the way. You’re going to feel stressed and frustrated every now and then, but you’re definitely not going to be alone in riding these emotions. We’ve been there. Our Greenheart Travel teachers and alumni have been there. Take a breath. Seek out friends to spend time with. Let your thoughts out. Always come prepared for class. And rest.


Do you have other tips for reducing stress while teaching abroad? Share below! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *