Students and learners of all ages experience challenges and stresses. Adult learners, in particular, often fulfill the primary roles of caretaker and/or employee and/or head of household. While they bring maturity, focus, and real-world experience to the classroom, adult learners also face additional stressors related to work, family, scheduling, health, finances, technology/knowledge gaps, etc.
Positive stress management and stress reduction provide/allow for numerous benefits for a person’s mental, physical, psychological, and emotional health & well-being; and, in turn, facilitate learning. Further, in addition to cognitive and motor skill enhancement, appropriate stress-management can support elements of Emotional Intelligence, including self-perception (skill examples: emotional awareness and self-actualization), self-regulation (skill examples: decision making and behavior management), interpersonal relations (skill examples: empathy and social responsibility), social relations (skill examples: communication and conflict resolution), and motivation (skill examples: initiation, perseverance, and commitment).
There are many healthy ways and positive strategies to manage and reduce stress. Some are newer within the past few decades—arising, for instance, with advances in brain and gut research. Some are centuries old, “tried-and-true” practices that now have solid research to back them. Some techniques boast generalized success rates (likely to work well for most people), and some are more successful on an individualized basis (likely to resonate more with certain persons than others). A sound approach would be for learners to, within the context of Self-Care, explore and assess what they know of themselves (brain, body, health, strengths, needs, preferences, schedules, stressors, and goals), in order to identify the strategies most likely to work for them—and then adopt & adapt said strategies.
Tutors and instructors can help students build and strengthen these valuable life skills, through encouragement, evaluation, conversation, modeling, and even practice. Consider incorporating practical stress management techniques into a lesson (or multiple lessons), to better support learning and learner health. Here are some popular, evidence-based stress management strategies that tutors can explore with their students...
Short-term/in-the-moment: Breathing exercises; Taking a break to walk or listen to relaxing music; Stretching; Power naps; Positive self-talk & affirmations; Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Long-term/ongoing tips: Build your confidence & believe in yourself; Work with your learning style; Remember that mistakes are part of learning; Set good goals, with mapped-out steps; Get organized; Manage time effectively; Meditation; Yoga or Qigong (can be free using podcasts or YouTube); Journaling; Dancing or other expressive Arts. Other beneficial suggestions: Eat nutritionally; Exercise regularly; Get enough sleep; Reduce screen time; Take a Music or Art class.