A Simple Strategy to Improve Your Mood in Minutesby Janet Zadina on 02/06/20
Everyone has stress. Stress can actually be good (eustress) or bad. We can’t escape it, but we can keep it from becoming chronic or creating burnout. It is not avoiding stress that is the solution, it is recovering from stress that is critical.
More than 60% of educators say their job is stressful. Not surprising, since the helping professions (teaching, nursing, counseling) are most susceptible to burnout. Stress can be contagious between faculty and students. Since a recent study shows that this may be the most stressed-out generation in recorded history, faculty must protect themselves from the harmful effects of stress. The best way to do this is to build in recovery on an ongoing basis.
One simple strategy takes only 12 minutes. In a recent study at Iowa State University, researchers found that “walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection” according to Douglas Gentile.
Researchers tested three techniques to reduce anxiety and increase well-being:
- Loving-kindness: Look at people and silently wish for them to be happy.
- Interconnectedness: look at people and think about how they are connected to each other and how you are connected to them by sharing feelings or goals or similarities.
- Downward social comparison: Looking at people and think how much better off you are than they are.
They also had a control group that just looked at people and noticed their appearance.
Results indicated that those who practiced loving kindness by wishing others well were less anxious and happier. Researchers even looked at personality to see if it would apply more or less to narcissists or meditators, for example. They found that this strategy worked regardless of personality type.
This strategy can easily be worked into your daily routine. Designate a specific time, such as on a break between two classes in the same room or as you walk across campus. For 12 minutes look at the individuals you pass and think silently to each one: “I wish you happiness”. You could even do this when students are testing and you focus on each one and wish them well silently. See for yourself if it reduces your stress and makes you happier after a couple of weeks of consistent use.