Reducing student stress: One helpful breathing technique

Reducing student stress is one of the many responsibilities of a teacher. What makes it even more challenging is that teachers experience stress as well. It is a difficult position to be in. This truth is why I strongly believe that Teachers Are Leaders. Leaders serve others around them with empathy and compassion while also managing their own responsibilities and mental/physical health. This year has sharply reminded us of this fact. Reducing student stress is not an easy task and you will need many tools because what works for one student is not going to work for another.

I want to share with you a breathing strategy that can help you in your effort of reducing student stress. Breathing techniques help people to shut out the negativity and achieve balance. As a result, decisions are not made based on emotion and the growth mindset is free to guide actions. This strategy was shared by Alan Cooper. Here is an excerpt from his article about breathing techniques:

The Butterfly Breathing Technique

Butterfly Breathing is more advanced than the previous two in that it includes wider action and therefore, more concentration than the previous two but also has a connection to both mindfulness and yoga. Set the scene. “Pretend you are a butterfly developing its wings as it learns to stretch and strengthen them as it emerges from its cocoon.” Then explain the wing action:

• Fingers interlaced, with knuckle side up, touching the bottom of the chin.

• Elbows out at right angles (sideways).

• Breathe in slowly and lift arms sideways and up.

• What did you feel your body do?

• Breathe out slowly bringing the arms/elbows to your side.

• What did you feel your body do?

The most important action is for the butterfly to breathe deeply. This can be assisted by getting the students to count, very slowly, 1, 2, 3 as the wings are opened, and 2, 3, 1 as they close. As the wings close and the breath is discarded, imagine the worries fleeing the body

I’m curious to know what strategies you use to reduce student stress in the classroom. Share it in the comment section.


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