How many of you have ever had that horrible nightmare? You know the one: No matter how many times you try, you can't get your locker open and you're late for class?
Even when we are many years removed from middle or high school, this nightmare (or some version of it) still stalks many of us.
As adults, we tend to forget how stressful life can be for a kid.
But stress management is a real-life skill that parents and teachers should teach children. Today's physical education classes are trying to do just that. Students are given health information not only about obvious topics such as nutrition, personal safety and personal health, but also about their stress management.
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In fact, the written feedback we physical education teachers get from students each year overwhelmingly shows that stress management is one of the subjects they value most. They write that they want help dealing with anxiety related to home life, relationships, sexuality, economic issues within the family, and scheduling of education, work and extracurricular activities.
Some people may not know how to define stress. Stress is the body's reaction to a demanding situation. It can be broken down into two subcategories — distress and eustress.
Distress can make us feel upset, angry or sad. But stress can also be positive and increase feelings of self-worth; that's called eustress. As educators, we try to show students how to find positive, eustress-type activities that will help deal with their stress levels in healthy ways.
One of the best ways to help students handle demands is to be physically active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doing some kind of physical activity helps reduce stress, while also helping to improve self-esteem.
Physical activity can decrease anxiety levels and provide a mental break from the craziness in life. All students can find ways to be physically active. Some may find it more challenging than others, so as adults, it's our job to help them find long-term ways to be active.
Two stress-busting activities that are gaining popularity are Indo Boards and martial arts. Indo Boards are portable balance boards that can be used on many different surfaces. Students can use the boards while engaged in other activities, such as reading, watching TV or doing weight workouts. The boards also are useful to help control behavior that might be disruptive in the classroom.
In gyms and workout centers across Wichita, kids are learning about various martial arts practices, including the respect of self that is required.
Another potential stress-reducer for our children is for adults to spend time with them. More than possessions, children crave the attention and love of parents and supportive family members.
While it's imperative to understand that everyone has stress in their lives, it's also important not to underestimate the value of coping mechanisms.
If we're successful in teaching kids some of those strategies, who knows, maybe they'll figure out the combination to that stress locker before the dream turns into a nightmare.