PARCC. Smarter Balanced. MAPP. STAAR. One of these probably rings a bell, as most teachers and students have just finished or are engaged in one of these end-of-the-year summative standardized tests. With testing can often come stress, and with stress comes reports on factors that contribute to that stress.
But what about factors that can reduce that stress?
Breath. Now breath again.
The Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE) in San Francisco hosts a wealth of programs around transcendental meditation, as well a program called “Quiet Time” which several San Francisco Unified public schools use. Quiet Time, which was featured on NBC last year, is a school-wide program for grades 5-12 that gives students two completely silent 15-minute periods each day. And at least according to the CWAE, just those elements can "reduce stress and promote life balance.”
CWAE’s techniques aren’t just for students. Here are three tips for keeping calm during testing season, straight from the “Wellness for All Program.”
1. Quiet Time: Transcendental Meditation
Finding a quiet spot at school or at home, at any time of day, and practicing TM has been shown to reduce teacher burnout, according to CWAE’s research on the effects of TM on blood pressure, anxiety and depression.
Here’s what to do: Focus on a sound or mantra for about 15 to 20 minutes, twice per day. That’s it.
We hear it all the time, but CWAE’s research hammers it home: Get some sleep. Yes, it's true: Getting an adequate amount of sleep can reduce stress levels--especially when combined with transcendental meditation.
The CWAE notes that transcendental meditation practice gives the body a level of rest that is “significantly deeper than the deepest rest generally gained during sleep.” More sleep means that you can achieve more “deep rest” when awake--a total "ah, ah" moment.
3. Diet and Exercise
No surprise here: Eating right and exercising also lengthen the effects of meditation. CWAE recommends prioritizing organic whole vegetables, fruits, and nuts and avoiding refined, processed foods. Down with those quickie lattes--up with fresh fruit. Add in light yoga a few times a week and you'll sail through exam stress without wrinkling your brow.
What techniques do you use to relax during the testing season? Share in the comments below!