There’s no doubt about it — 2021 was a stressful year.
Regardless of your situation, last year brought up plenty of anxiety and uncertainty. For teachers, students, and parents, the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on education has been an immense source of concern and stress. Many learning institutions’ abrupt and unplanned shift to online learning left students confused and unprepared.
Governmental guidelines and policies appear to change daily, and it’s hard to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. It’s not surprising that 2020 was regarded internationally as one of the most stressful years of recent times.
Stress can be very dangerous, and if left untreated it can be just as damaging as other long-term chronic conditions. It’s also undeniable that stress in high school students is a growing health concern. Unfortunately, COVID is going to continue to disrupt education well into 2022, which means high school students will need to develop stress management skills to help them through the rest of the year.
When considering which high school is the best option, it can be valuable to consider an online school that takes proactive steps to reduce stress and anxiety in their students. The Ontario Virtual School (OVS) has a tremendously effective support system, deeply intertwined with the learning process, so students can learn the skills to survive in an uncertain world.
Learning Online: Taking Charge of Your Education
Starting high school can be extremely anxiety inducing. About one in four new students find it a very stressful transition, and the majority of incoming freshmen need more help than they receive. A lot of this can be blamed on old-fashioned, antiquated means of education delivery. Many students don’t respond well to the traditional 9 – 3 school day — many have jobs or extracurriculars that are required for their university applications. The grind of attending a physical school — on top of other responsibilities — can be fatiguing, leading to sleep deprivation and a host of other conditions that can hinder learning.
However, for some students, online learning can provide an amazing environment to take control of their own learning objectives. Online, the student is in charge of developing their schedule and working out the pace of their learning. Students can progress at their own pace, completing online high school credit courses in as little as four weeks, or they can take up to a full year.
These extra elements of control can do wonders for promoting a healthy school-life balance. With a different learning approach, even subjects that challenge a great deal of students such as MPM2D, the Principles of Math, can be approached with more confidence. When students know they have extra time to spend on challenging material, the work can become more engaging, imparting essential skills like mathematical thinking and multi-step problem solving without the added mental strain.
In addition, OVS adopts a holistic model of student learning, with great care towards stress management in students. Beyond providing a constantly updating selection of online courses, they also have a robust and responsive student success team that monitors progress, and steps in to counsel if students have not checked in to the portal, or have routinely failed to hand in assignments. Because online learning is very different to attending a physical institution, OVS provides a number of resources helping students excel in an online environment. For an example of these useful resources, take a look at this helpful article to help you create balance in your day to day life.
Why is Mindfulness Important for Students?
Anxiety and stress are classic obstacles to success. Finding and perfecting techniques to deal with stress has been a concern for millennia. From Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, to Hindu mystics, even to Navy SEALs and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the same basic relaxation techniques are used to deal with stressful situations.
Students can also use these toolkits to succeed in their education. Some of the most successful relaxation techniques for students rely on breathing exercises, as they don’t require any equipment beyond a set of lungs. This brief article by an expert practitioner provides a framework to begin your breathing exercises through a method called “dual focus.”
Even small, simple adjustments can lead to massive changes in your mindset and attitude towards learning. The good thing about mindfulness for students is that there are a large number of techniques to use; one suitable for any disposition.
Developing mindfulness skills doesn’t have to involve meditating in a Himalayan cave for decades, it can be as simple as taking five minutes just focusing on your breathing, or even colouring in a picture. When you have discovered a technique that works for you, continue to practice it, and eventually you’ll have another skill that you can use whenever you encounter a stressful situation.
Maximize Your Productivity Through Meditation
It’s not just stress and anxiety though! Relaxation exercises for students carry a whole slew of other benefits. These techniques have also been shown to improve one’s focus and attention. With discipline, you can see improvement with ten-minute meditation sessions once a day.
Improving your attention and focus is a great benefit in an online world, where the constant stimuli of the internet poses an ever-present threat of distraction. Regular mindfulness exercises can also improve cognitive ability, improving student’s memories and decision-making capabilities.
By improving your focus and cognitive ability, you will also improve your mind’s ability to structure and ingest information. This has the effect of also improving your memory, an immense boon to any student worried about tests and final exams!
From an emotional perspective, improved mindfulness skills should help quiet perfectionism in those students suffering from grade-anxiety, letting them open up and take more risks and creative approaches to problem solving. The benefits from practicing mindfulness allow you to learn and work faster and more effectively, improving your academic performance without adding hours of cramming.
Stress Management Sets You Apart from the Crowd
School is not just about the material in class or the exams. University admissions departments, as well as employers, are looking for applicants who can manage uncertainty effectively. Online schools that focus on promoting relaxation exercises for students can help foster resilience and focus, and an ability to effectively deal with and thrive in challenging situations.
Learning how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations is a vital life skill, applicable in almost all walks of life. With OVS’ support system, students can get a whole tool-kit of relaxation and mindfulness techniques that can help harness the mind even at its most turbulent. With that, there’s little holding you back from success in high school!