What role does stress management play in a thriving school?
Give teachers and students tools to manage stress and anxiety.
We live in turbulent times. Teachers and students alike feel the stress and anxiety that results from endless pressure to get things done and from juggling too many activities. Many of our students come to school with acute emotional needs and today's social environment can be unforgiving. It's a recipe for disaster. And our teachers? They take the brunt of it. In addition to delivering academic content to our students, our teachers now have the added burden of supporting kids emotionally. Burnout is likely and many good teachers leave teaching altogether because it's just too much.
So, how can we help?
The school day is so busy! There is very little time for anything other than classroom work. But when classroom stress mounts and students and teachers alike become distracted by their own fears and worries, a little time out might be necessary. Just a few minutes of mindfulness is a great way to hit the pause button on your brain. Taking a moment to observe your breath and let thoughts come and go can be all you need to restore a moment of calm in the classroom and a little inner peace. At least for a few minutes! Mindfulness is one form of stress management. We can also help teach students and teachers how to better manage their time, prioritize projects and activities, cultivate gratitude and find opportunities for more joy in their lives!
But what is mindfulness, anyway?
According to Mindful Schools, an organization that has designed a curriculum for teaching mindfulness in schools to children of all ages, has conducted extensive research on the benefits of mindfulness. Defined simply as “paying attention to the present moment, on purpose and without judgment,” mindfulness is similar to mediation, although the practice, defined in this way, is secular.
A consistent practice has shown improvements in attention span, compassion toward others, and emotional regulation (including decreased reactivity to stressful stimuli), as well as lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Click here for more research on the benefits of mindfulness in schools.