At every age and in a variety of situations, a person experiences stress. This isn’t always negative, though. In fact, stress is the body’s natural response to circumstances that require quick action. It helps an educator or a student be more alert of their surroundings or complete a task, like taking a test or delivering a speech to a crowd, with adequate amounts of energy and strength. This is known as eustress or the more “positive” stress.
However, “distress,” as the negative type of stress is known, can pack a powerful punch in the classroom. It can cause an introverted student to shut down during a Socratic seminar where discussion is the basis. Plus, it can impact teachers in challenging and sometimes unfamiliar situations that require monumental problem solving.
Luckily, stress doesn’t have to conquer the day. You can apply some well-researched relaxation techniques that’ll help you to meet the demands of your next project or presentation. Read on to find out more about the benefits of these relaxation techniques and how to apply them to your classroom situations.
Benefits of Using Relaxation Techniques in the Classroom
Employing relaxation techniques in the classroom greatly benefits both the teacher and students. Plus, including this practice regularly fosters an environment that’s more conducive to learning and collaboration by maintaining a positive and caring atmosphere. This is vital to meeting the needs of the students (especially your kinesthetic learners) and keeping everyone focused on the tasks at hand.
By clearing the mind and putting the body in a more relaxed state, you enable your students (and yourself) to stave off distractions more effectively.
You might wonder, how exactly does this work? First off, you’re slowing down the heart rate and calming down the breathing, which gives you an overall improved sense of calm and stability. Other benefits of relaxation techniques include:
- Decreasing fatigue
- Slowing down production of adrenaline and other stress-related hormones
- Improvement in mood and concentration
- Reduction in frustration and anger
- Improved sleep quality
Overall, incorporating relaxation techniques gives a feeling of well-being and can easily be integrated into the daily routine.
6 Relaxation Techniques for Students and Teachers
To get you started, here are six relaxation techniques that are simple and quick to do or easily incorporated into the class’s procedures. You might find that you can combine a few of these exercises. Furthermore, they’re all adaptable for any age range.
Try a technique called guided imagery by imagining a serene environment and getting the mind to picture all aspects of that “place.” This helps the brain calm down and refocus on something more pleasant.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
With this exercise, you are talking your way through tensing and then relaxing just a few muscle groups at a time. While some individuals practice this technique standing up, your safest bet is to remain seated so there’s no worry about losing your balance. One interesting aspect of progressive muscle relaxation is that it effectively deals with test anxiety.
3. Background Music
Including background music helps alleviate stress, especially when you listen to classical music or any other genre with a slow tempo and mellow tune. However, if you don’t want to fall asleep (or, in the case of teaching, put the class to sleep), then a faster tempo and slightly higher volume would be more helpful. Think of something similar to Schubert’s “Ode to Joy.”
At the same time, you might need to be mindful of your auditory learners, who might get distracted by background music. In that case, you can set up a study and relaxation corner in the classroom with earbuds and a device for playing music.
4. Deep Breathing
Have you ever heard someone tell you to breathe when you’re in an anxious state? There’s actually some wisdom behind that practice. When you breathe slowly and deeply, you’re bringing your heart rate down and releasing the tension in your muscles. Also, deep breathing slows the brain down and can be incorporated into other relaxation techniques like visualization and progressive muscle relaxation.
5. Basic Yoga or Stretching
In addition to deep breathing and playing background music, stretching or performing some simple standing or sitting yoga poses chases anxiety away. Again, you’re redirecting your attention toward any muscle tension that you’re experiencing to release the tension by gently stretching. Also, you’re keeping your mind “in the moment” rather than allowing it to race with worry about the future or wander back to the past. This helps you maintain your attention on the stretching before returning to your tasks.
6. Flexibility in the Daily Routine
Finally, you may have times when you need to pivot and change the plan for a few minutes or the rest of the afternoon. Maintaining flexibility with instruction and routine helps with avoiding stress. For example, you might need to reschedule a quiz if more preparation is needed. Or switching to a hands-on activity as opposed to utilizing screens can help students with their stress levels.
As you can see, including relaxation techniques in your class management plan is not only easy but also necessary. Along with helping students let go of their stress, passing on these relaxation techniques gives them the tools in the future to deal with situations that take them out of their comfort zone. This is an important life skill that will benefit them for years to come.