Newswise — NEW YORK -- Studies show most teachers experience high stress levels. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the problem. Many teachers felt heightened pressure and experienced burnout as they navigated hybrid and remote teaching in the midst of a global pandemic. When teachers go back to the classroom this fall, they will undoubtedly continue to feel stress as they face the uncertainties that lie ahead. Schools will need to help teachers manage their stress and prioritize self-care.
To provide teachers with effective tools to relieve stress, The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit public health initiative, is offering their DeStress Monday at School program free of charge to schools. DeStress Monday at School is a mindfulness program that was originally piloted with the Johns Hopkins Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion and faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Baltimore City Public Schools.
The program includes a weekly curriculum, with new mindfulness practices sent out in advance of each school week, allowing time for teachers to become familiar with each practice before their Monday classes. Teachers are offered mindfulness practices for their own self care, as well as practices they can introduce to their students in the classroom. Findings from the pilot study showed that teachers liked the program and reported lower stress after completing it. Additionally, nearly all teachers wanted to continue using the self-care mindfulness practices after the pilot program ended.
Sara Benjamin Neelon, PhD, director of the Johns Hopkins Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Bloomberg School, said, “More than ever, we need to help teachers cope with stress. We hope sharing DeStress Monday at School widely will provide teachers, educators, and even students with tools to help manage stress with techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and positivity. Our evidence-based approach has shown that people who make a commitment to healthy behavior every Monday describe being more likely to sustain these behaviors over time. Research suggests that mindfulness programs can reduce teacher burnout and yield increases in performance and self-compassion.”
Ron Hernandez, The Monday Campaigns managing director, explained, “During the pandemic, we saw an increased demand for our DeStress Monday resources, practices and activity series, with website traffic increasing 117% and requests for information growing 96%. Given this level of interest and the elevated stress that teachers have endured during the pandemic, we felt that the original DeStress Monday at School program could benefit teachers at this critical time. We’ve upgraded the design, and have made it available as a free, turn-key program for teachers and their students. We hope more schools will take advantage of this resource to help alleviate some of the stress they’re experiencing.”
Starting this school year, schools can offer DeStress Monday at School to supplement the other stress-management resources provided to their teachers and students. With this program, educators can start each school week with a positive outlook that can help them establish a more mindful approach, use simple techniques to reduce their stress levels, and inspire a positive environment for learning.
The DeStress Monday at School program guide can be downloaded here: https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/destress-monday/at-school
Links to more information:
About The Monday Campaigns and research about the Monday effect on health: https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/about
Johns Hopkins Lerner Center: https://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/lerner-center-for-public-health-promotion/
 Lambert, R.G., McCarthy, C.J., Fitchett, P.G., Lineback, S., & Reiser, J. (2015). Identification of elementary teachers’ risk for stress and vocational concerns using the national Schools and Staffing Survey. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23 (43).
 Kaufman, Julia, and Melissa Diliberti, Teachers Are Not All Right: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Taking a Toll on the Nation’s Teachers, Seattle, Wash.: Center on Reinventing Public Education, 2020.
 Flook, L., Goldberg, S.B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K. and Davidson, R.J. (2013), Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout, and Teaching Efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7: 182-195. https://doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12026