How is your stress level? What about the stress level among your students? Talk to any of your family or friends, and they may share with you feelings of stress. According to WebMD, adults often cite factors such as work, childcare, relationships, and financial pressures as stress stimuli (Goldberg, 2018). Your students may be feeling stressed as well. Home, relationships, social pressure, academic success, over-scheduling, and other factors may affect students in a negative way. Even middle school-aged children are more frequently describing feelings of stress and. In a recent study, when asked if they are happy with their lives, only 37 percent of seventh-graders said yes (Pellissier, 2014).
Parents and teachers are aware of the impact that stress has on young people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic classes. As a teacher you can inspire and help your students learn stress management techniques that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Follow the ideas below and feel free to share your own ideas in the comments section of our blog.
Five Stress Busters for Your Students
- Teach Mindfulness. Mindfulness is more than a trendy buzzword. It is a proven technique for managing stress. The practice of mindfulness centers on limiting distractions and training the mind to be present in every moment. Research shows that multi-tasking, particularly in the age of high-tech interconnectivity, is boosting rates of stress and anxiety—factors that can impact digitally tethered teens and tweens (Woolston, 2020). Help students understand the value of putting away their devices and being fully present in each moment, whether it is outdoor recess, cafeteria time with friends, or classroom lectures.
- Start the Day with a Calming Ritual. Many students may be carrying stress into the classroom from their homes. To help them transition to the focused mindset needed for learning, and to aid them in recognizing their school as a place of safety and security, begin the day with a stress-releasing routine. For example, ask your students to sit in a circle and practice a few minutes of stretching, deep breathing, and releasing muscle tension (Reading for Stress Relief, n.d.).
- Offer Silent Reading Time. Have you ever turned to a good book in a safe, quiet space when you’ve needed to relax? You’re not alone. A study by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent, and it’s been proven to lower heart rate and ease muscle tension. For young people, quiet reading time can help eliminate barriers to focus and reestablish a sense of calm due to its peaceful, slow-paced nature.
- Maintain a Classroom Culture of Positivity. Empathetic students who are sensitive to the moods and emotions of their peers may feel stress from the discourse that sometimes occurs inside the classroom, such as disagreements among students, disruptive student behavior, or even watching their teacher reprimand peers who are not following directions. Even on days when your students are testing your patience, work hard to maintain a sense of calm, trust, respect, and positivity in your classroom. Such a culture will help students avoid a buildup of stress throughout the day.
- Drop Everything and Color. The benefits of coloring include lowering stress levels, mindfulness, and relaxation. When you color, your brain actually enters into a meditative state, zapping stress and lowering anxiety levels. It’s a fantastic way to help your students unwind and unplug. Think coloring is just for kids? The next time you have your students color, grab some crayons and try it yourself. You’ll be amazed how good you feel once you get in the zone.
While teachers cannot control the external factors that boost stress rates for students while outside of the classroom, they can work to teach students the techniques they will need throughout their lives to manage unavoidable stress triggers. No matter the age of your students, they are never too young to start recognizing the physical and emotional signs of stress and learning how to assuage them.
Amazing Benefits of Coloring For Adults. (2016, February 5). Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.colorit.com/blogs/news/85320388-amazing-benefits-of-coloring-for-adults
Goldberg, J. (2018, March 11). Common Causes of Stress & Their Effect on Your Health. Retrieved March 5, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/causes-of-stress#1
Pellissier, H. (2014, October 23). Stress and your child’s brain. Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/how-stress-affects-your-child/
Reading for Stress Relief. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/reading-stress-relief
Woolston, C. (2020, January 1). Multitasking and Stress. Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/emotional-health-17/emotional-disorder-news-228/multitasking-and-stress-646052.html