One of the hardest professions is that of a teacher. Educators and school staff members are not only responsible for teaching children important academic lessons but are often charged with instilling moral and ethical principles and discipline. All of these factors coalesce to create character in a child but can take an emotional toll on a teacher. Teachers tend to experience burn-out at very high rates due to the stress of managing a career, a personal life, and caring for the well-being of a classroom of children. In order to minimize the stress to teachers, researchers have striven to devise coping strategies that can be easily incorporated into the busy schedule of educators and provide them with the relief they need in order to successfully carry out their responsibilities and flourish emotionally and physically.
One of the methods that has been used in previous research is that of relaxation. However, until now, most of the existing research on the benefits of relaxation has been based on long-term interventions. In a recent study conducted by Dana Kaspereen of the Department of Psychology and Counseling at Fairleigh Dickinson University at the College of Florham in New York, relaxation benefits were assessed after a 4-week intervention. For the study, Kaspereen provided 30 to 45 minutes of relaxation therapy (RT) once a week to participants comprised of high school teachers and staff members. The stress levels of the participants were assessed before and after the relaxation therapy intervention.
Compared to a control group, the RT participants had significantly less stress after the intervention. Additionally, the RT group reported higher levels of life satisfaction than the control participants. This study is among the first to demonstrate that even short-term interventions aimed to reduce stress can alleviate negative symptoms such as distress and emotional overwhelm. Overall, the participants who received RT were able to successfully navigate the demands of their profession by implementing the tools they acquired during the brief intervention. Kaspereen added, “RT can help teachers and staff members reduce anxiety and depression, decrease burnout rates, decrease perceptions of work stress, and increase overall life satisfaction.”
Kaspereen, D. (2012). Relaxation intervention for stress reduction among teachers and staff. International Journal of Stress Management. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029195
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