Transcendental meditation can help teachers build resilience, prevent burnout

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Teachers are under a great deal of stress, as they meet the needs of their students every day. In many jobs, stress can lead to exhaustion and burnout, both emotionally and physically. As professionals head back to work, and especially those going back to the classroom, a recent study finds taking time out for meditation can help educators be more resilient to the pressures of the daily grind.

According to researchers with the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education, around 70 percent of professionals are constantly under stress and over 20 percent feel the effects of burnout. Previous studies have discovered teachers in particular are facing more challenges as they try to meet the demands of remote learning.

Despite such high levels of exhaustion, teachers taking part in a four-month development program focusing on transcendental meditation significantly turned around the harsh effects of emotional exhaustion and fatigue. Transcendental meditation is a form of meditation which focuses on silence, mantras, and other yoga practices.

Healthier teachers result in more successful students

People experiencing burnout typically deal with declining feelings of personal accomplishment, feeling that they’re losing their sense of identity, and emotional exhaustion. A recent study finds educators cite stress as the number one reason they leave the teaching field.

“Teachers are under high levels of stress as they are asked every day to support their students’ learning amidst numerous challenges,” says lead author Laurent Valosek in a media release, who is also the executive director of the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education. “This study demonstrates the benefits of meditation for strengthening teachers’ mental and physical health. There is a growing body of research on the harmful effects of burnout and the need for resilience. School districts are looking to give their teachers tools for reducing fatigue and emotional exhaustion to support a more effective, sustainable teaching experience and better student outcomes.”

A fourth-month study included 78 teachers from the San Francisco Unified School District. Those practicing transcendental meditation displayed an improvement in physical, emotional, and mental health. Researchers also found the teachers displayed better resilience against stress, fatigue, and depression.

Study authors believe the findings have a trickle-down effect to a student’s academic success as well. Burnout typically results in teachers committing less time to their students and preparing less for class. Teacher absenteeism leads to less qualified substitute teachers entering classrooms and also results in more teacher turnover and less effective teaching methods.

The study appears in the journal Frontiers in Education.

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