Nearly half of Chinan school kids are stressed. Here’s how to fix it

Young people in experience very high stress in schools, which has negative impacts on their academic performance and mental health.

It is crucial schools teach students how to identify and best manage stress. These skills will continue to benefit them throughout their lives.

Adolescence isa critical stage at which to interveneas health-related behaviours established during this periodare often carried into adulthood.

School-based stress management programs,such as mindfulness based yoga programs,have been shown to be effectivein the United States. Similar programs would benefit n school children.

Does studying stress your children? Photo: Shutterstock

n school kids are highly stressedNearly half (47 per cent) of n students feel very tensewhen they study, compared to the international average of 37 per cent.

Based on the OECD average, 67 per centof n students report feeling very anxious even if well prepared for a test, compared to the international average of 56 per cent(64 per centfor girls and 47 per centfor boys).

In the 50 per centof young people in years seven to 12 who report feeling moderately to extremely stressed over exams, the number one source of pressurecomes from themselves. Coping with stressis a top issue of concern to young people.

The impact of school stress on young ns and societyDrop outSchool related academicstressandburnoutdecreases student academic motivationandincreases the risk for dropout.

nearly school leavers earn approximately $27,500 less a year than school completers. People with higher rates of educationreport fewer illnesses and better mental health and well-being.

In 2014, there were almost 38,000 early school leavers aged 19,costing $315 million a year. Dropping out can also have wider social impacts, likerepeated inter-generational problemsof low academic outcomes,unemployment, poverty, less participation in the political process and contribution to the community.

Academic achievementIn , students with low well-beingare likely to have poorer academic achievement. Frequent positive emotions during class are associated withmore student engagement, while negative emotions are associated with less engagement in years seven to ten.

Stresscan alsoimpair mental healthwhichfurther reduces academic performance.

In high school, people experiencing depression symptoms havepoorer educational achievement,concentration difficulties, troubles completing school tasks, and troublewith social relationships, self-learning, reading and writingas well ashigher rates of risky behaviour.

The impact of stress and poor stress management follows young people into higher education. In 83 per cent of n TAFE and undergraduate students,the main factor affecting people’s studies was stress.

InUS undergraduates,perceived stressand higher anxiety about examstranslates to poorer final grades and academic performance.

Risky behaviourSubstance use has beenshownto be a dominant stress management strategy in year 11 students in the US. In Canada, students who felt connected to their schoolreportbetter health, higher self-worth, less anxiety and less likelihood of smoking, drinking alcohol and associating with peers who commit crimes.

Academic resilience and buoyancy increases the likelihood of success in schooldespite setbacks, stress or pressure in the academic setting. Resilient and buoyant studentsare able to maintain high levels of achievement,despite stressful events.

Schools can better support students with yoga programs

Schools can change educational policies and practices toaddress the needs of studentsat risk of academic failure. Student stress levels relate to how supportive they feel their teachers and schools are, rather than the number of school hours or the frequency of tests,according to an OECD survey.

The practice of yoga and mindfulnesshas become popularin recent yearsas a form of stress managementin . These practicesdecrease physiological markers of stressin diverse populations.

There is no definitive classification of yoga, butcommon elements are:

controlled breathingmeditative techniquesasanas (the physical yoga postures or positions)mindfulness practice, which is the process of focusing awareness on the present moment and acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, in a non-judgmental way.Mindfulness-based communicationimproves resilience in first-year college students, while students who take part in some moderate or vigorous physical activity are less likely to report theyfeel very anxious about schoolwork.

In high school settings, studies from the US and India show mindfulness based yoga programscan improve gradesormitigate decreases in grades across the school year,improve emotional regulation,improve memory,anger control and fatigue/inertia,improve mood and decrease anxiety.

Aqualitative studyshowed yoga improves self-image and management of negative emotions and optimism. Students think yoga could reduce interest in the use of drugs and alcohol and increase social cohesion with family and peers.

At home, parents can consider practising mindfulness together with their kids, and can access a range of mindfulness and meditation online programs and apps for young people, such as throughHeadspaceandSmiling Mind.

Given the evidence base, offering mindfulness based yoga programs in schools may help young people learn to manage stress and increase their ability to bounce back in response to stress.

Michaela Pascoeis a postdoctoral research fellow in exercise and mental health atVictoria University.This article was originally published onThe Conversation. Read theoriginal article.

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