|Stress is common in the lives of today's students. Many face high academic standards, peer pressure, violence and poverty in their schools, homes and communities, contributing to immense stress. Research shows that stress adversely impacts students' academic achievement, health and social-emotional growth and without adequate coping skills, they will have difficulties concentrating, following directions and rebounding from failure and disappointment.
In order to reduce the harmful effects of stress, educators should provide ways for students to cope with pressure and anxiety. With the start of a new school year, help students manage stress with the following strategies:
- Mindfulness teaches students to focus on their present experiences, to avoid reactive and impulsive choices and to examine their circumstances with curiosity and acceptance. Particularly effective with adolescents, mindfulness is a powerful tool for restoring emotional balance and decreasing stress.
- Yoga is a combination of poses and deep breathing exercises that are proven to reduce stress, as well as improve self-esteem and boost grades. Eight to 10 minutes each day, educators can lead students through various poses, like cat-cow and downward-facing dog, to help them relieve stress after school.
- Guided imagery allows students to use their imaginations to reduce stress. Help students imagine themselves in a calm, peaceful setting, such as a beach or their favorite room. Describe the scene using different sensory details to make it vivid in their minds. Students should feel more relaxed by the end of the exercise. Visit Kids Relaxation for more guided imagery activities.
- Physical activity benefits students' mental and physical health. A recent study found a link between higher levels of physical activity and lower levels of stress. Engage students in fun games, like animal charades or freeze dance, to help them shake off stress!
- Peer sharing, or co-listening, gives students the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings within a safe and structured activity. Have students find a partner, and one student will talk while the other listens. They can share their feelings, worries and concerns, and students will switch roles after 2-3 minutes. Check out the full peer sharing activity.
Stress negatively impacts students' academic achievement, physical health and social-emotional growth. Educators can incorporate these five stress management techniques into their program to help students deal with pressures now and throughout their lives.