It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. right?!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

-Andy Williams “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Holiday lights and decorations, endless Christmas songs on the radio, holiday get togethers, extended mall hours— all of the signs that the holiday season is in full swing. The holidays are apparently “the most wonderful time of the year”, but are they really?

While this season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, it often brings feelings of stress and anxiety for many. This is due to the pressure of gift-giving, preparing for parties, and often a calendar full of activities. In fact, here are some statistics based on new findings from the 2019 Total Brain survey of 1,000 Americans 18-55 years old:

  • Nearly 50% (45.5%) of Americans say that holiday shoppers cause the most stress during the holidays.
  • Nearly 40% (39.9%) of Americans would skip the holiday season this year due to the stress associated with it.

According to the National Association of Health Education Centers, the chief stressor for students ages 9-13 is school. And no middle school teacher would be surprised by this, but it is important to remember that similar to adults, our students are also experiencing added stress during the holiday season.

Added stress could be from stressed out parents who are taking it out on them at home, or interactions with family members are not particularly pleasant. For some students, the upcoming break from school is not a positive one because they may have long stretches of time with nothing to do.

In addition, sometimes school deepens the stress by ramping up the schoolwork as a way of keeping students focused and busy. Also preparing for performances or projects changes the routine enough to bring on new stress.

According to an article from AMLE, teachers can help middle school students deal with this stress by doing the following:

  • Acknowledge that “holiday stress” exists: Teachers can talk openly about their own “holiday stress”
  • Teach stress-reduction techniques: Deep breathing, body relaxation, journal writing to reduce stress and also share your own ways you reduce your own stress.
  • Don’t let your stress get in the way: Students who are under stress are going to act out. Kids are going to talk back more, engage in more fights, and be meaner to each other than at other times. You are the adult: work to keep your classroom on an even keel. Raising your voice and losing your patience with students only adds to the tension.

And teachers, remember that you need to find your own stress relief during this holiday season. Here is a challenge, on a daily basis, make time to quiet your mind, take a moment to take a few deep breaths and then write down 5 things that you are grateful for. See what happens if you do this everyday until the end of 2019.

a tiny tip….

Last week I shared how you can ask a student to join you during the “greeting at the door”. When you do this, select a student who you have noticed does not have a lot of friends, is on the quiet side, or appears lonely. Use the recent screener that your teams completed to identify an internalizer that could use some positive acknowledgement from his/her peers.

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