Stress is an inevitable part of life, and managing it can be complex at the best of times. For students who have revision, exams and a truckload of hormones to content with, it can be even more of a challenge.
In a recent article for The Guardian, Carrie Starbuck outlined six key tactics that can be used to help students to navigate their feelings of stress and anxiety.
Provide students with a better understanding of how stress works
Stress is our body’s way of warning us about imminent threat or danger. Helping students to recognise the signs for themselves will help them to feel more in control. Understanding how stress can sometimes be a driver for positive results is also beneficial. It can be a motivator for action, and learning how to channel that energy into something good will help students in the long run.
Explaining the science behind stress
Getting to grips with the science behind stress will help students to understand better what is happening to their bodies at the time. This will help them to get past their initial negative feelings and move towards making clearer decisions.
Mistakes are a crucial part of any learning process, yet so many students are terrified of making them! It’s important for teachers to help students to understand why failure isn’t the worst thing in the world, and get them to reflect on where they may have gone wrong and what they can do differently next time around.
Don’t apply extra pressure
Education is results-driven, and it can sometimes be hard not to focus on that alone. Teachers are under pressure to get the best out of students, and the pressure from above can often be transferred onto students, albeit unintentionally. What teachers must remember is that students are under enough pressure already, especially those who are relying on results for conditional university places. Applying too much pressure may have the opposite effect on a student’s progress, with a negative impact on their results.
It is said that mindfulness can help the brain to stay alert and improve mental toughness, so it comes as no surprise that US Marines have been trying to implement some exercises into their training before deployment. There are even some schools that have replaced detention with meditation classes, and have seen a significant improvement in student behaviour.
Time being a factor, short breathing and meditation exercises can be done at points during the school day to help students to stay calm and focus on the task at hand.
Self-care is important
Teachers naturally put the needs of students first, but this should not be at the expense of their own wellbeing. In order to communicate effectively the importance of stress management, teachers must provide the example. A teacher can only give their best if they are at their best, so it’s important for them to take breaks from their work, both physical and mental. Planning trips and scheduling work-free blocks of time will allow teachers to reset and go back to work feeling refreshed.
Source: The Guardian: Six tactics to help your students deal with stress