Anxiety, stress and the methods to help alleviate both are seemingly ubiquitous in today’s media. Students and teachers are experiencing new levels of stress in their everyday lives and these levels often increase when we engaging with our work. It’s easy to forget to consider that students are just as stressed as the teachers might be. Is there a fool-proof way to help combat stress? What can we do to help our students manage their stress?
Take a break
We’d all love to have a little holiday away from our lives every now and then. Even if we can’t travel to some place far-far away, we can recreate some of the benefits of a holiday by engaging in activities that take our minds away from our to do lists. A simple walk around the block can give our brains respite from our concerns. Better still is engaging in a physical activity that you enjoy. Going for a run, lifting weights, walking the dog, practicing yoga or participating in team sports are just a few examples of activities you can encourage your students to schedule into their lives. The Anxiety and Depression Association Of America (ADAA) has reported just how effective physical activity is at reducing stress here.
The way we teach our students has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. Students are taking part in lessons on their mobile phones just as frequently as in a classroom. This allows for flexibility that can sometimes result in their education becoming a lower priority. How so? If students can view a lecture at anytime and anywhere, they might be more inclined to do other things first before engaging in that lesson. Pushing lessons down in their priorities is likely to result in decreased motivation and in turn can cause a build up of stress as a deadline looms.
By talking with your students in advance about prioritizing their education will help them to put things into perspective. As teachers, we must recognize that for some students an education may not be at the top of their list. Family, jobs and other responsibilities may need to be their priority. Being honest about what is essential will allow you and the student to have realistic expectations which will go a long way in helping relieve stress around their studies.
Giving your students a clear and concise rubric based on your expectations is incredibly valuable in creating an environment that helps to mitigate stress. So much of what we fear and what makes us anxious is the unknown. Teachers can eliminate a lot of this by being consistent and communicating clearly what is expected. There are many software programs available that allow you to send emails reminding students about important due dates and assignments. Ultimately it is up to you to know if you would be overwhelming your students but when in doubt erring on the side of too much information is preferable to too little.
The more we understand the effects of anxiety and stress, the more we appreciate the value of proper rest. Today’s students, especially those seeking an online education, often have very full schedules. Proper rest is just as important as an appropriate meal. Sleep deprivation is most common around midterms and finals when major projects are due. Being aware of this and having open communication with your students about the importance of rest and sleep will help them to perform at their highest level.
Acknowledging you appreciate the stress your students are under goes a long way. Students need to understand that some level of stress is to be expected whenever you’re engaging in something new and unknown, but there are limits to that stress. Creating an environment through communication that allows students to express their issues with stress candidly will help both the teacher and the student to deal with it when it becomes too much. Sharing with them the techniques you use in your life to deal with stress is also a great way to align yourself with them and create a working relationship that extends beyond the issue of stress into their academic endeavors.
Do you have any tips on how to conbat stress? Please leave a comment in the box below.