The start of the school year can be stressful for teachers and students alike. This year, with the uncertainty between remote learning, in-person instruction, and complicated hybrid models, stress is at an all time high.
How can we help our students navigate the emotional impact of this challenging time? Here are three general strategies you can teach for managing stress:
1. Identify stress
The impact of stress is not always obvious. When we are feeling stressed out, it is challenging to stop and say to ourselves, “This is stress that I’m feeling.” Instead, the effects of stress make us lash out at others or ourselves. By teaching students how too much stress feels, they will be better able to understand the effect stress has and resist self-destructive impulses.
2. Create a context to control stress
One of the easiest ways to control stress is to minimize the chances of being overwhelmed. This means paying attention to things like sleep, exercise, and nutrition, which help our body to regulate stress.
We can also help students understand their personal stressors. What tasks or situations do they find stressful? How can they control their environment to support themselves when facing these moments? For example, if a student finds their math homework to be stressful, they could consider starting their homework with the teacher or a buddy to minimize stress.
3. Reduce stress, don’t eliminate it
The goal of managing stress is not to remove all stress. Stress is a natural part of life; it’s what makes us get to school on time and pay attention to our deadlines and obligations. Help students see that stress is an opportunity to learn more about who we are and what we need to succeed. When we understand what stresses us out and the strategies that help us in those moments, we can bring our stress level down to where it can be managed and worked through.
- Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director