As you change classes every ten minutes, and remember you need to follow the schedule, you might find yourself feeling two different emotions at once: this is hard, keeping track of the schedule and staying on track and gathering all this information and processing all these new ideas and, at the very same time, you might feel, this is exhilarating and self-affirming; I am figuring out how to make this schedule work and how to manage this complexity.
For most of you, and for most of our students, this is an experience of stress that is more positive than negative. We worry about stress, of course we do, for our kids, and we should. We worry sometimes that they are overwhelmed, or too anxious or burdened, or that they are suffering deep disappointments.
We want to ensure students feel safe, and we know that when they feel deeply at risk of pain or humiliation, their reptile brains kick in and, often, their learning opportunity narrows accordingly: they simply can’t and don’t learn as much. That is why we want to work so hard through advisory and our kindness campaigns and our mission days, and many additional ways to ensure students feel safe.
But stress is not evil. There is a form of stress called “eustress”, that is described as
the type of ‘positive’ stress that keeps us vital and excited about life.
The excitement of a roller-coaster ride, a scary movie, or a fun challenge are all examples of eustress.
Eustress is actually important for us to have in our lives. Without it, we would become depressed and perhaps feel a lack of meaning in life. Not striving for goals, not overcoming challenges, not having a reason to wake up in the morning would be damaging to us, so eustress is considered ‘good’ stress. It keeps us healthy and happy.
But there’s more. Eustress is positive, but we need to also remember that even distress has its value—in the right amount. One of the best books on parenting in the past decade, is actually a pair of books by a Los Angeles psychologist named Wendy Mogel—have any of you read her books?-: The Blessings of a Skinned Knee, which is about raising younger children, and for raising teenagers, the Blessings of a B-. (more…)