This year, back to school looks different, and it’s understandable if you feel unprecedented levels of stress. Because of this, it’s extremely important to make time to care for your social and emotional well-being. Doing so will enable you to better cope with stress and maintain strong, positive connections with others.

Below is a collection of free and low-cost resources and strategies for boosting social and emotional well-being. You can modify these activities to make them workplace wellness challenges, family activities or part of your wellness routine!


Wellness Challenges

Sharing a little extra kindness during the busyness of back to school can make someone’s day! OEA Choice Trust grantee Willamette ESD developed a Random Acts of Kindness Challenge to encourage employees to support their friends, family members and colleagues.

Use these challenge materials to host your own:

1. Random Acts of Kindness Challenge information, sample flyer and tracker template

2. Mark Kelly’s TEDx Talk, How One Act of Kindness a Day Can Change Your Life

Another way to strengthen our positive outlook is to practice gratitude. This can be done with a gratitude challenge, writing in a gratitude journal or by sending notes of appreciation to others.

3. 21 Days of Gratitude Challenge information, sample flyer and tracker template

4. Gratitude Tree Activity Instructions

5. Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, The Happy Secret to Better Work


Virtual Game Night

Whether you play with colleagues or family and friends, a game night can boost everyone’s mood! Choose a game from the articles below and use a platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts to connect online.

6. Six Fun Party Games You Can Play Over a Zoom Call – Washington Post

7. Ten Fun Games to Play on Zoom – Good Housekeeping

Actively Manage Your Emotions

Naming our emotions can help us create a deeper awareness about our feelings. Though we can often identify whether we feel upset, happy or sad, diving a little deeper and giving our emotions specific names can help us be present with how we really feel. As mindfulness expert Dan Siegel advises, “Name it to tame it.”

8. Mood Meter App – Developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, including the lead developer of RULER, this app can help you identify how you feel and gives you a tip for changing your perspective if you’re not feeling great. (The app costs 99 cents.)

9. Printable Feeling Wheel – The Gottman Institute

10. Helpful Vs Harmful: Ways to Manage Emotions – Mental Health America



Feeling Wheel developed by Dr. Gloria Wilcox, shared by The Gottman Institute

Feeling Wheel developed by Dr. Gloria Wilcox, shared by The Gottman Institute