Today, more than ever, our students are experiencing significant amounts of stress at school and home. Whether it is extracurricular activities, classwork, after school jobs, family life, or peer interactions, our boys and girls are loaded down with responsibilities and stress. Sometimes, it’s difficult for kids and teens to dissipate stress which can obviously interfere with their learning and wellbeing in and out of the classroom. Even on those days where it seems impossible to squeeze in one more obligation or standard into our lessons, it’s imperative we teach students stress relievers to help them function and find joy in learning. No matter what level you teach, all students need to find effective ways to manage stress.
Please scroll through the following list of top school stress relievers for students that are relatively simple, appropriate, and adaptable to any grade level:
A healthy way for students to beat stress is to get plenty of exercise. In our classrooms, we can adjust our schedules to include regular movement. This can be as simple as doing stretches and yoga in opening, scheduling enough recess time, taking “brain breaks” with action songs or stretches, implementing a “walking club” before school, or asking administration to build sufficient physical education into daily schedules. In addition, we can encourage students to walk or ride their bikes to school.
Use Visualization and Meditation.
This easy and effective tactic allows students to close their eyes, breathe deeply, and use guided imagery to help relieve stress. You can have the class picture themselves performing well on a project or envisioning they are surrounded by a serene forest. Or use visualization by having students lay down and visualize a floating ball of light passing over their body. As the ball moves over the body it “releases” tension, allowing them to relax parts of the body. Eventually, the light should pass over the entire body leaving them calm and stress free. Some people even find it beneficial to place gemstones or rocks on certain parts of the body to help focus their efforts during meditation. Another visualization method, is on a piece of paper, have students write down what is causing stress, crumple it up, and then throw it away. This is a symbolic way to clear minds and relieve student stress.
Listen to Music.
Many students respond favorably to music, saying it improves concentration and feelings of relaxation when listening to soothing tunes. Studies have found some types of music can promote better relaxation than others, but there is conflicting evidence to which types achieve the best results. Sometimes, it totally depends on a person’s preferences. For the classroom, consider using relaxing guitar melodies, slow jazz, or classical pieces to see if music can be a top school stress reliever for your students.
Provide Access to Stress Relief Products.
Students who are feeling stressed can benefit from sensory gadgets, fidgets, and other products or tools. Provide calm down jars, weighted lap blankets or pillows, sensory fidget brushes, stress balls, elastic bands on chairs, yoga balls (for flexible seating), and noise cancelling headphones to help students handle stress safely and self-regulate in the classroom.
As educators, when it came to classroom management we were often jokingly warned not to smile until after Christmas. While it’s important to have good management, we should acknowledge how laughter and comedy are powerful ways to ease tension and even teach valuable lessons. Include jokes and comedy in your classroom daily, by rotating a job of comedian or poet to an assigned student each week and allow them to share a funny joke, rhyme, or short story to the class at an assigned time every day.
Yes, as educators this sounds counter productive, but kids need time to relax, explore topics that interest them, get one-on-one help with a teacher, or catch up on homework. Consider building in a 20 minute “free period” into your daily schedule and once a week use this time for instruction on relaxation, mindfulness, and building focus. Schools that have implemented this downtime have reported a calmer tone in the classrooms and hallways.
It’s no secret that chaos and clutter can cause stress, reduce productivity, and waste time in a classroom. Ensure the classroom is organized and clutter-free in study areas. This will provide students areas free of distraction, potentially reducing stress on our students. If needed, provide time daily for students to organize homework, daily planners, desks, and book bags so they can learn organization and won’t become overwhelmed with clutter.
Use positive affirmations daily to model and train children better ways to think about their circumstances. Embrace positive talk and build students up by using genuine feedback, letting them know that mistakes show they are trying, and post inspirational sayings around the room.
What methods and strategies have you found to be the top school stress relievers for students?