How Mindfulness Training Reduces Stress and Burnout for Teachers

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Teachers are an essential part to children’s’ growth. Your job is important. Not only do you help them learn academically but you also help mold them socially and emotionally. The reality is, teachers aren’t often given the respect they deserve for the important job they perform. This is why studies like the modified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (mMBSR) was adapted specifically for teachers.

The study concluded that mindfulness training could be a way to reduce psychological symptoms of the job. Burnout can be reduced and improvements in how well teachers manage their classrooms. Self-compassion is enhanced and performance of tasks and organization of the classroom improves. The studies show that by being mindful, many of the common problems teachers face on an emotional level can be managed. As you reduce the anxiety, you also reduce the possibility of burnout.

Mindfulness and Anxiety

The study of mindfulness and how it influences our state of being is widely looked at. There were 47 trials on meditation studies that met criteria to be considered relevant. The studies were published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The conclusion was that mindful meditation could reduce and ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and emotional pain.

A psychiatrist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, says that mindfulness meditation makes sense for treating anxiety. Her theory, based on her knowledge, is that people who are stressed have a hard time dealing with thoughts. The thoughts take control over their life. An anxious person will have a hard time distinguishing a thought designed to solve a problem and a worry that offers no benefit.

For those who have worries that are not productive, training mindfulness can reverse this issue. Through mindfulness training, which would have to be a regular practice, you can begin to deal with the thoughts differently. They will not stress you out any longer. You may see something as being a total disaster, like being late. Through mindfulness training, you can talk yourself down from allowing all the stress to build up in you. You can pinpoint the emotion that you’re feeling and see the reality of a situation instead of letting your mind lose control over small problems in life.

The Powerful Tools of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that was designed to help all aspects of your being. This includes the mind, body, and soul. When you nurture these aspects of yourself, you’re going to naturally feel those benefits. Through breathing, you calm the body down. When you begin to practice this breathing, you can use it as a tool against stress throughout your day. Breathing relaxes the nervous system and some methods of breathing can even give you more energy.

Breathing is just one element of course. It is meant to be used in conjunction to poses that relax the body, stretch the muscles out, and build strength. An optimal body is going to help the mind as well when you consider that is all so closely intertwined. Breathing should be practiced before meditation as well. It helps to calm the mind down so you can look within.

Cortisol, the Stress Hormone

Cortisol is the hormone that allows us to respond to life-threatening events. It is attached to our fight-flight response and the nervous system. Being chased by a tiger is a threat and using the fight/flight response in this case makes sense. It doesn’t make sense for us to use it in the workplace for fears that don’t result in our lives being threatened. When we do become stressed enough, we release cortisol into the bloodstream. This causes health problems to the point where experts are saying cortisol is the number one health risk in the U.S. This part within our making is what causes stress to be detrimental to your health.

The breath work within yoga, along with the mindfulness has been found to reduce cortisol levels. Just through the act of looking at what’s happening within your mind can cause you to become calm. Mindfulness has the ability to allow you to stave off all kinds of stress in your life. It does take practice but it’s worth finding this state of mind to come home to when you’re feeling less than positive.

Here are some of the benefits of mindfulness training that will help you avoid anxiety and burnout.

  • You won’t react to a situation and immediately get stressed out. You will have the training to take a moment and look within yourself. You can tap into the wise part of the mind that knows better than to react negatively. You can then make better solutions, which further alleviates any kind of stress.
  • Mindfulness changes the mode in which you think from. When you focus on just “being”, you will become more relaxed automatically. The “doing” mode is where stress derives from. It has its place but in our day and age, it’s vastly overused and causes stress.
  • You’re more in tuned with your body. You’ll notice your body getting stiff when you sit for too long. You can then take action to stretch which can also reduce stress.
  • With a greater sense of emotions towards others, there will be less conflict with others. As a teacher, compassion to others is highly beneficial to students. A teacher that genuinely cares because they’re not blocked by anxiety is mutually fulfilling for all parties involved.
  • Mindfulness practice minimizes the activity in a part of your brain known as amygdala. This is where the stress response switches on. At a cellular level, you are reducing stress where it starts.
  • You have more clarity and can think more clearly. Mindfulness meditation enhances your ability to focus. This means you can be more efficient at work but are using less mental power. You can get into the zone and let your workflow. When you have less work on your plate and feel like you can manage it, you’ll be less stressed.
  • You can quickly change moments of stress to moments of “aa haa” when you know how to meditate. The more you use it to calm yourself, the more faith you’ll have in the ability to overcome all emotional and mental challenges. Within yourself, you will find the gentle warrior that doesn’t become scathed by all the outside nonsense.

Meditation helps us to completely let go of the fears, anxieties, and negative feelings we have about the workplace. There are many politics involved in being a teacher. When you’re mindful on a daily basis, you can begin to focus on the parts of your career that matter. When things come up that inhibit your vision as a teacher, you will have a powerful method to understand why that hits your soft spots inside. Experts of the mind agree that mindfulness is something that can be so beneficial for every part of your life.

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Meera Watts

Meera Watts

Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)

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