Lesson Planning for Stress Management

Learning to DeStress at School can set Teachers (and Students) up for Success

Meghan Crowley, Senior Program Associate with The Monday Campaigns and a former sixth grade teacher with a master’s in Health Education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University reflects on teacher stress and opportunities to support educators with self-care strategies. 

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It’s been over a year and a half since the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the education system, and, in that time, teachers, administrators, faculty, students, and parents have gone through extraordinary lengths to maintain a semblance of order amidst the confusion. And through creativity, cooperation, and perseverance, teachers across the world have somehow managed to make it work.  

Lesson Planning for Stress Management  - Destress Monday feature for teachers

But it certainly hasn’t been easy. Today, both teachers and students face unprecedented levels of stress, burnout, and exhaustion. That is why it’s so important that everyone in a school setting—teachers, administrators, and students—makes an effort to prioritize self-care in order to stay calm, focused, and healthy throughout the school year. By learning and implementing a range of simple stress-management techniques, such as mindfulness, stretching, and deep breathing, individuals of all age levels will be better equipped to navigate difficult situations.

But how does a teacher, whose responsibility is to nurture, teach, and uplift their students, prioritize self-care? 

For starters, it’s helpful to think of self-care as not a singular goal, but as a collection of activities that can be done throughout the week to address different areas of personal wellness. The Monday Campaigns; DeStress Monday at School program, which was developed in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University, divides the concept of self-care into five key categories and includes a collection of actionable practices that correspond to each specific category.

  • Starting the Day: Healthy goal setting and therapeutic movements like a sun salutation to help prepare you mentally and physically for the day ahead. 
  • Boosting Energy: Chair yoga and fun dance breaks to help relieve tension and energize. 
  • Improving Focus: Mindfulness practices like mindful eating, listening, and drawing to refocus attention back to the present moment or activity.
  • Calming the Mind: Deep breathing practices or a “mind jar” to quiet negative thoughts and bring control to a chaotic environment.
  • Connecting with Others: Expressing gratitude, empathy, and appreciation or setting up a kindness garden, a visual display to document kind acts, to connect—or reconnect—with others.

By focusing on simple activities that can be done quickly, teachers can easily incorporate a self-care cue into their weekly routine, as well as share the tips and practices with their colleagues and peers. In a world that often feels full of unknowns, learning a few stress-relief techniques can help strengthen your resolve for the remainder of this school year. 

At the mid-point of the 2021-2022 school, there’s no better opportunity than now to add a few stress-relief and wellness practices, which include deep breathing techniques, mindful meditations, and therapeutic movements and stretches into a teachers’ toolkit, like those in the DeStress Monday at School program

The Monday Campaigns is a public health initiative associated with leading health institutions that promotes sustainable behavior change by dedicating every Monday to health. Why Monday? A growing body of evidence suggests that healthy thinking and behavior is synchronized to the week, with Monday being the day people are most “open to buy” health.