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There have been various studies showing the effects of a classroom’s learning process on student stress. Those who are anxious about their abilities inside the classroom will typically have high levels of what is known as the hormone associated with stress, cortisol.

Eric Digest presented an in-depth report on the relationship between faculty and students as well as its effect on stress during class. The report focuses on the effective use of feedback as a means to establish an atmosphere inside the classroom that is ripe for learning.

With that in mind, we have gathered several points to reduce classroom stress. This article will discuss the causes and symptoms of student stress that will thoroughly analyze how various aspects can affect stress management inside the classroom. 

What are the causes and symptoms of student stress?

In a 2014 study conducted by the American Psychological Association, teens in the United States of America are much more stressed as compared to adults. The good news is that parents and teachers can watch out for the early signs and symptoms of student stress before it becomes a problem.

Causes of Student Stress in Elementary School

  • Taking tests
  • Presenting an oral report in front of a vast audience
  • Standing out and being different in large crowds

Causes of Student Stress in Middle School

  • Peer pressure
  • Busy schedules
  • Homework loads

Causes of Student Stress in High School

  • Romantic relationships
  • Maintaining good grades
  • Pressure from parents
  • College preparation

Causes of Student Stress in College

  • Financial difficulties
  • Securing a job after graduation
  • Balancing of social activities
  • Maintaining a high GPA


Now that we have gone through some of the significant causes of student stress for elementary school, middle school, high school, and college students, here are some of the symptoms you should watch out for:

  • An upset stomach
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Biting of the nails
  • Physical aggression
  • Fidgeting
  • Headaches
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Lack of passion in things that used to be fun for them
  • Noticeable change in appetite
  • Noticeable isolation from friends and family
  • Hot-headed and having a quick-tempered nature
  • Depression
  • Frequent absences
  • Chronic worrying
  • Substance abuse (for middle school up to college students)

Teacher-driven Options

It is true that the teacher or instructor plays a massive role in developing a classroom setting appropriate for learning. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to remember by when looking for ways the teacher can reduce stress inside the classroom:

  • Meditation

Even quick and straightforward breathing exercises within the classroom can do so much. Relaxation exercises before a big test can significantly lower student stress level. The great thing about meditation exercises is that these are readily available online. Teachers can make use of YouTube videos and other platforms to release any pent up tension and emotions for the students.

  • Teach your students how to cope with disappointment

Life may be full of disappointments; however, there are plenty of ways to deal with it resulting in a lower level of student stress. As a teacher, do not just hand out a quiz with a  failing grade. Use this opportunity to teach them how to cope with the disappointments in life adequately. Talk them through as to what went wrong. Remember, failure is the most excellent teacher. A school teacher’s role is to guide the students on better ways to cope up with failure.

  • Positive psychology

The use of positive psychology for the reduction of student stress has been proven to be effective. This particular field in psychology does not focus on pathology; rather, it focuses on the things that heavily contributes to human happiness. It aims to discover what makes humans thrive. Teachers and instructors alike can make use of positive psychology as a means to identify the cause of stress and eliminate it as soon as possible.

  • Flexibility

The truth is that the life of a student cannot avoid stress. The best way to go about it is to try and eliminate any stress-inducing activities as much as possible. Another option would be to allow students some flexibility during emergency cases. If a student is allowed to drop one assignment in the course, this will significantly lower their stress levels. In some instances when they lose an assignment, was not able to study for a test, got a flat tire on their way to school, and so much more, giving them options of whether they can take the final test or not can reduce their stress levels drastically.

  • Doodling and gum chewing

Keep in mind that the students are the ones allowed to either chew gum or doodle on their notebooks during hard lectures or long quizzes. There are some instructors that completely forbids these acts as it may hinder the students of actually learning something during discussions. However, these two acts can greatly aid in relieving student stress. As a teacher, do not discourage your students of these options for stress reduction.

  • Be wary of ergonomics

This may be one of the most neglected tips in student stress reduction. Taking tests is already a stressful activity on its own. Eliminate other factors contributing to stress during quizzes and examinations by focusing on the ergonomics. Eliminate back and neck aches by ensuring that your classroom has proper lighting and comfortable seating.

Student-led Options

Moving on to how students can reduce their level of stress inside the classroom, we begin by stating that with the students’ efforts to reduce stress, the faculty should always be ready to support these initiatives. Furthermore, the reduction of student stress inside the classroom mostly falls on the hands of the teachers as they should be the one to notice the early signs and symptoms of student stress.

  • Exercise

A healthy lifestyle can greatly impact how students respond to stress. There have been various studies discussing the relationship between anxiety and exercise. With that in mind, it is important to note that the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee of 2008 claims that people who are not sleep-deprived and those who exercise regularly have a lower chance of developing clinical anxiety.

  • Meditation

It has been discussed under teacher-driven student stress reduction options that meditation and other breathing exercises can greatly help a student before a big quiz, a final examination, or an oral presentation. With or without the teacher’s permission, these can easily be performed by the student. As a student, take time to truly practice your breathing if you feel like you are getting an anxiety attack during an examination or an oral presentation. Furthermore, make it a habit to meditate at least five minutes daily.

  • Strategies for taking tests

Another great way to eliminate stress is to develop various strategies for when you are taking tests. If your school offers multiple workshops on test-taking strategies, take the initiative to join one. Here, you can learn various techniques for when you are taking different kinds of tests. For example, several students found it easier to skip a hard question during a multiple choice test. Coming back to it later has been proven to be less stressful as compared to when they force themselves to come up with an answer immediately.

Final thoughts on classroom management and the reduction of student stress

Student stress inside the classroom can be affected by so many factors. While there are options for both the teachers and students, it is important to note that the teachers have a much more crucial role in the reduction of student stress inside the classroom. Nonetheless, it is their role to assist students in their learning process.

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