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5 Ways to reduce stress and anxiety in your students

School can be a significant source of stress when growing up. In fact, according to a new study by Barnardo’s, it is the biggest source of stress.

The report shows that nearly half of all 12-year- olds in England feel sad or anxious at least once a week. And what’s more worrying, by the age of 16, this figure rises to 83 percent, with 80 percent experiencing anxiety over their future.

School should be a neutral place where students can come for stress-free learning, away from the worries of home life and the outside world. Ensure your classes are only positively affecting your student's health with our five tips for reducing stress and anxiety in the classroom.

1)   A Stress-Less Zone

Although we’re largely unaware of it, our environment significantly affects our behaviour, and as a consequence can have a serious impact our health.
An environment that’s conducive to stress is generally one in which there’s too much visual stimulation like bright colours, minimal natural light, and other distractions like the disorderly arrangement of objects and furniture. To make your classroom into space where children are not as likely to become distracted or irritated, work to avoid all of these points and promote a clean, orderly, and calm environment.

2)   We’re Made To Move

It’s hard enough to sit still for long periods of time for many adults, never mind kids. But while teachers are free to move around in class, students are often confined to their seats.

This approach inevitably encourages fleeting attention spans and lack of focus, among other things. And yet it can be easily averted by introducing movement at frequent intervals throughout the day, or better yet, experimenting with alternative seating like exercise balls or disc cushions. Or better still, spending the whole day out on a nature-inspired school trip.

3)   Keep Quiet And Carry On

Much like in the way visual clutter can make it hard for some kids to concentrate on the task at hand, auditory clutter and disorganised noise can be just as distracting — if not more so.

Some noise leaking through from the external environment is unavoidable, and your classroom shouldn’t exist in a silent bubble. However, you can prevent hard, reverberative sounds where possible, limit music and noisy activities to one corner of the classroom, and even drown out sounds from other classes with neutral background music.

4)   Transition Time

It takes time for us to switch gears between different types of task, for instance, between those that require high cognitive focus and creative thinking. However, this principle is rarely acted upon by students in the classroom.

When switching to new activities, particularly from a lighter to a heavier subject, allow a few conscious minutes for students to touch base and collect themselves. This can help regulate the nervous system and put students in the right frame of mind before the task begins.

5)   Mindfulness Not Mindlessness

Mindfulness is beginning to make a regular appearance in schools for its ability to bring calm, focus, and broader awareness into the classroom. But contrary to what many teachers think, you don’t need a meditation program or mindfulness officer to start seeing benefits from it.

An easy and fun way to practice mindfulness with your students is the hot air balloon method. After getting the class to take a few full, deep breaths, get them to visualise themselves as hot air balloons with several ropes attached to rocks that anchor them to the ground. By picturing the rocks as distracting thoughts and feelings that arise, encourage them to let them go so that they eventually can float into the sky, free from worries and ready to move onto the next task.

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