How Gratitude Can Help With Students’ Anxiety

Students and teachers have embarked on a new academic year amid an epidemic, an economic crisis, a reckoning of racial injustice, and a divisive political environment. Everyone’s mental health is at risk, and schools are looking for ways to support the well-being of young people in addition to their education.

In recent years, many teachers have worked with socio-emotional learning (SEL) programs to understand and manage emotions, to have a positive relationship with others, and to be personally and socially. Focuses on enhancing students’ abilities to behave responsibly. Now, a new study suggests that one area of ​​SEL that has often been overlooked in the past may be key to building community and resilience in students: Thank you.

In a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, Giacomo Bono and colleagues found that when high schools are taught about giving thanks and given opportunities to practice it, they improve mental health. And show good health. Based on these findings, the authors argue that giving thanks can be a relatively easy, low-cost strategy to help students thrive.

In two urban high schools, six classrooms (152 students) participated in lessons and activities to learn about Thanksgiving science – what it means, how it can be practiced, and what benefits it brings. Can up to six weeks. In addition, students were given access to a Thanksgiving web application called Gate THX, which works somewhat like a private social media network.

The app allows students to express their gratitude to their classmates and teachers in a less stressful, authoritative way, whenever and however they choose. It was hoped that this collection would be attractive to students and that getting expressions and gratitude is a natural and rewarding part of their school experience.

A control group of nine comparable classrooms (175 students) did not thank. A total of 82 students used the app in six more classrooms during the same period alone. At the beginning and end of the six weeks, all students completed a wellness survey.

What the researchers found was astonishing. After six weeks, compared to the control group, the students who received the full program reported not only a strong sense of gratitude – they also increased positive emotions, decreased anxiety and negative emotions, and their friendship and their lives. Both reported greater satisfaction. In other words, knowing and practicing Thanksgiving can significantly improve the social and emotional well-being of these high schools.

Further analysis shows that the students who received both components of the program thanked the people more often, more intensely, and more people who only used the app, indicating that the class Lessons from Rome are also included.

In the end, giving thanks seemed key. The more students said they thanked others, the more they improved their SEL skills, including emotional discipline, motivation to achieve, kind and helpful behavior, teacher and peer relationships. , And a sense of meaning in life.

Overall, this study provides fascinating evidence that teaching high schools about thanking and encouraging them to practice and express themselves on their own terms, in a way that they are comfortable with (e.g. On social media) can help improve their happiness and their mental health. .

This study addressed some of the shortcomings of previous studies in the field, by developing a completely new Thanksgiving program specifically for high school students, in which teachers taught, and with the help of the technology involved. It gave young people a great deal of freedom to express themselves.

Many of the previous Thanksgiving programs weren’t designed for teenagers in these ways, and so they may not feel encouraging or purposeful to young people. Furthermore, although research has shown that actually expressing gratitude to others (beyond feeling yourself) can be extra useful, it is one of the few programs for young people to express gratitude.

Although the study was conducted prior to CoVID-19 and did not include distance learning, it is easy to imagine that even (or especially) when students are not together in person If so, making a habit of giving thanks can help build a better society, because being thankful can also help reduce negative emotions, so avoid fear and uncertainty. This can be especially valuable at times.

In fact, another recent study in China found that one of the reasons grateful teens are less anxious and depressed is because they have more flexibility to compete. It’s hard to imagine a better time for young people to develop flexibility and emotional resilience.

When it feels like the world is falling around them, young people feel, express and thank. Providing a moment to pay can help – and be grateful for it yourself.


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