High levels of stress in schools - what role models do students have today?

Updated: Jan 19

Hello from Barcelona, the home of Gaudi, tapas and beautiful architecture.

Stress shouldn't be an issue in such a beautiful environment, shouldn't it? Reality tells a different story. Beyond the political situation which has caused a lot of stress to the population we find high levels of stress in schools - among both teachers and pupils.

During a Physical Intelligence lecture at the Faculty of Psychology at the Blanquerna University teachers shared stories of their day-to-day battles that are causing them high levels of stress - ranging from high workloads at schools to personal anxieties facing difficult situations at schools and demanding pupils that don’t show respect.

When asked, most of the teachers albeit a few exceptions said that they don't prioritize their personal wellbeing and don't have a mechanism on how to deal with these stressors. This has not been part of their training. Most don’t even notice how much they are stressed since they don’t have time – from early morning commutes to full agendas during the day they are caught in a daily routine that slowly gnaws at their physical and mental wellbeing. They have adapted and developed their own coping strategies. The most prevalent one is to not pay attention - that is something that doesn’t have to be trained.

Teachers are the role models for their students

In remembering my school days, I distinctly remember certain teachers and how they made me feel. Some of them became my role models, they inspired me through their personal achievements, life stories, acts of courage and most importantly through the way they supported the goals of their students.

Were those teachers as stressed as today’s teachers are? – I don’t think they would have been able to show up the way they did for us.

Even if we don’t realize that we are stressed our environment does. Stressed teachers transmit their physical stress to everyone around them including their students. It is reflected in their physiology, their behavior and their state of mind. What are they modeling for their students? We know children learn by imitating, listening, absorbing what they perceive from people around them. They emulate the behaviors from people around them and get affected by the stress the teacher feels.

And that is not the only source of stress for students – As Drs. Maturana and Vargas state in a Science Direct article the children and adolescents in school, are confronted by situations of high demand and require the deployment of all their coping capacities to adapt to both internal and external stressors. The symptoms associated with stress accompany adjustment, anxious, behavioral and emotional disorders.

A vicious cycle? If teachers are not able to manage their personal stress it takes a toll on their ability to teach and support their students.

Taking control with Physical Intelligence

With the demands of modern life weighing on teachers, it is critical that they start protecting their health from the impact of stress and learn how to effectively manage themselves to achieve well-being.

The Barcelona teachers were very interested to learn about their options -

Through tapping into our Physical Intelligence we can enhance our ability to manage stress and personal well-being to effectively counteract the stressors of our modern lifestyle. But the benefits are far greater. Once we start effectively using the tools to manage stress, we are learning how to manage our minds, to calm and control the stream of thoughts and detach from their emotional impact. From there we have the potential to change the patterns that limit our intelligence, our mental and emotional disposition, the success of our actions and the outcomes we seek.

About the Author Dr. Martina Wagner the cofounder of ArtesHumanis – a boutique executive development firm that helps individuals and companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100 companies—succeed by enhancing performance and improving effectiveness of their leaders and teams.

To find out how you can tap into your Physical Intelligence to take active control of your mind, change limiting patterns and enhance your wellbeing check out "An Introduction to Physical Intelligence" available on Amazon


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