HealthTeacher, an online health communication resource for educators, has introduced a new deep breathing app for teachers to use in the classroom as a calming tool with their students.

Citing scientific research demonstrating the negative effects of stress and anxiety on student performance and overall health, the company developed a two-minute app to be easily integrated into teachers' lesson plans throughout the day.

Educators can use the app during particularly stressful times, such as before exams and transitions, at the beginning and end of the day, and right after lunch when students tend to have a harder time settling down.

Deep Breathing For the Mind Body and Soul

Abdominal breathing techniques, which incorporate deep inhaling and exhaling exercises, are recognized as beneficial to the physical, mental and emotional health of students. Reports show that students focus and concentrate better when they are calm and relaxed, and their attention and ability to control angry emotions improve. The company states that by incorporating the breathing activity into their daily routine, students will learn constructive ways to cope with tension and will attain enduring stress management skills.

Stress Management Essential in the Classroom

The app, which is accessible via a computer or smart-phone, is designed for use in the classroom on a whiteboard or screen. Teacher training is available to site subscribers, with supportive information, lessons and a short animated film offered to help teachers acclimate to the exercise and facilitate understanding and participation among their students.

Anxiety disorders are common during childhood and adolescents, with roughly 20% of children affected during any given developmental stage. The disorders may extend into adulthood, though various treatments, including psychotherapy with or without medications, are frequently effective. Genetic and environmental factors have been shown to contribute to its onset, and research has indicated that children and teens of affected caregivers are at greater risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, one in eight children suffers from an anxiety disorder, and studies show that the psychiatric condition leads to poor school performance, higher absences, behavioral problems, withdrawal from social events, and drug and alcohol abuse. Some children may refuse to attend school, complaining of headaches, stomachaches, nausea or diarrhea; they may be prone to tantrums and exhibit defiant behaviors.

Childhood anxiety illnesses include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Anxiety in children frequently occurs along with depression, eating disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It has also been associated with poor self-esteem and obesity in children and teens.

Teachers Need to Teach Children How to Handle Stress

HealthTeacher strives to form a bridge between health educators and teachers to teach youngsters positive health habits and to prevent the onset of debilitating physical and mental disabilities. The organization collaborates with school districts, teachers, home-schools, after-school programs and community organizers, offering health curricula and lesson plans that promote healthy behaviors in youth.

While chronic stress is associated with negative health outcomes, deep breathing exercises lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve immune function, increase oxygen intake, and trigger a parasympathetic nervous system response. Ultimately, the deep breathing practice can contribute to improved academic and social outcomes in youngsters and is a positive activity to promote childhood wellness.

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Maisha M. Syeda, MSc.
Sigal Sharf, MS
Sigal Sharf, MS


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