4 Strategies to Reduce Students’ Stress and Anxiety
Teachers! Suffering from stress and anxiety? Worried about getting everything done before the end of the year, or stressed about testing, paperwork, and student behavior? Guess what, your students may be stressed and anxious too. There are a few simple things we can do in the classroom to relieve anxiety and stress.
Teaching students to self-calm is one of the first strategies to help students deal with anxiety and stress. It is also a strategy they will take with them for the rest of their lives. Self-calming can be as easy as deep breathing. Teach students to take 3 deep breaths when feeling stressed or anxious.
Yes, I know you can barely get the kids to sit still, so how can you get them to meditate? Even meditation for a few minutes can make a big difference in helping kids relax. I like to do guided meditations for about five minutes. Have students sit in a comfortable position (not every kid likes to sit crisscross on the floor), turn the lights down, put relaxing music on low, and have students close their eyes. Then guide students through a few calming and breathing exercises to guide their meditation. This can be as simple as “Think about a place where you feel calm—the beach, your bedroom, the park—picture yourself sitting there with no distractions. Now take a deep inhale and hold (for about a second or 2) and now release.” Do this several times during the meditation.
Self-talk is the inner voice that you have inside your head throughout your day. Positive self-talk is when you say kind and positive things to yourself out loud or silently in your mind. This technique can lower anxiety and stress because you do not allow negative thoughts or expectations to enter your mind. It’s the difference from saying to yourself: “I am so stupid. I can’t believe that I failed this test” or “I’m disappointed in how I did on the test. I am going to work with a tutor and study more next time”.
Before a test, positive self-talk can look like this:
- Tell yourself that you know the information and that you are prepared.
- Remind yourself of the hard work that you put in during your study time
- Tell yourself that you are ready to succeed
- Think about times that you were able to answer the questions in class.
General positive self-talk phrases can look like this:
- I am a good friend.
- I will work hard and try my best.
- I will learn something new today even if it is challenging.
- Today is going to be a great day.
- I am a happy person.
Stress and anxiety can get worse when students don’t get enough sleep. Each student is unique, and some need more sleep than others, but generally speaking, school-aged children need anywhere from 9–12 hours of sleep per night. Since this is not something that you have direct control over in your classroom, talk to your students about the benefits of sleep, why it’s important for your body and your health, and about how much they should be getting each night.