Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stress Reduction in the classroom

In my past three posts I have discussed the use of core stability balls, staying active in the winter and using yoga to reduce stress. I would like to suggest a few more ways to use these techniques to benefit the students in your classes. These techniques have helped me a great deal to stay positive about my school work and to stay physically active.

By introducing students to the core stability ball in either the classroom or the gym students would be able to try something new and increase their physical activity levels. In the classroom it would more then likely be used as chairs. This will help overall posture, concentration, muscle tone, balance, and overall learning ability. When students are forced to sit in hard chairs that are sometimes attached to the desk, it limits their ability to move around, stretch and be active in a constructive way. There is sometimes a fear that giving students a ball to sit on may be dangerous (what if they fall off?) or that they will throw the balls at each other, but students will typically meet the expectations that the teacher has and the expectation is that the students will learn to sit on the ball and be respectful of classroom materials. I feel that students will enjoy using the ball and will find it a fun and easy chair to use. As a backup I would still have a few regular chairs in the classroom for students who prefer them or who can not behave responsibly with the stability balls.

Students can become depressed at any point in their lives and teachers should be aware of their student’s emotional and mental health so that they can step in and help when needed. Teachers can incorporate aspects of mental health into their teaching and find out how students are doing by building relationships and paying attention to patterns in student behavior. During the winter depression can be very serious and students should be encouraged to receive help when needed. Every student will benefit from fresh air and outdoor activity, so encouraging students to get outside even when it’s snowing and cold is important for their overall health. It is important to remember to dress appropriately and to listen to the body when it says that it is cold. Students often get home from school and do their homework, watch

TV, play video games or go online. They rarely go outside to sled, build an igloo or take a walk around their neighborhood. Walking in the snow is similar to walking on sand and is a great way to keep your muscles moving. Parents, teachers and other adults that interact with students can help students to enjoy the winter and stay active at the same time.

Yoga can be a lifelong skill that can help build muscle, increase flexibility, and increases mental focus and concentration. It can also help to relax the body and the mind to reduce stress. Students can be taught these techniques at any age and children really enjoy trying the different yoga positions. I have been teaching the children that I watch (I am a nanny for three children) yoga for the past three years and they really enjoy the physical activity and the concentration that it takes to hold the pose and balance. They have become quite good and look forward to doing it. The poses can be used in the classroom to help students expend their energy and refocus. Helping students to focus on their breathing, quiet their minds and focus on how their body feels can help them to relax and focus before a test or a quiet activity. This can also help students who are coming from lunch or PE and have a lot of unfocused energy. Yoga helps the body and mind come together and focus on what is at hand.

I have given resources and tips for three of the activities that I participate in and that help me manage my stress, there are many more and it is important to take time to find what helps you. Each person is unique and will find their own coping strategies and ways to manage and reduce their stress. Stress is a normal and healthy part of life, but when there are too many stressful events or feelings, it is important to take time to refocus and give the mind and body a break to relax.

I hope that each of you will take time to figure out what works for you and to look at some of the links below. Good luck in all you do, stay healthy and active, and keep learning!

Links to stress reduction techniques:

Tai-chi -

Learn Massage-

Receive massage-

Meditation at IC-

1 comment:

  1. Hanna you brought up some interesting points in this blog posting. The stability balls and yoga are great ideas to incorporate in the classroom during this time of year. I had the chance to take a relaxation class as an undergraduate student and I learned some interesting things that can be taught to children. Staying active is extremely important during the winter but giving children the chance to learn some stress reduction techniques are just as important. Teachers tend to forget the value of such lessons and they should be incorporated in all classes.