Stress has a subtle way of sneaking into our lives, especially when we’re on a path of growth and self-improvement. In the world of continuous professional development (CPD) and technical and vocational education and training (TVET), adult learners tend to be bombarded with a whirlwind of responsibilities, deadlines, and demanding schedules. Although the pursuit of knowledge and career advancement can be exhilarating, most would agree that it can sometimes lead to heightened stress levels.
Today, we’ll explore practical stress management techniques tailored specifically for adult learners. With these techniques in your arsenal, you’ll be able to navigate the challenges, find balance, and embrace the transformative power of learning with a calm and focused mind.
1. Embrace Mindfulness
In a UK-wide stress survey, it was found that a staggering 74% of the UK’s nation reported feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope at some point in the past year. Mindfulness and meditation can be a great way to offset stress and often takes less than 10 minutes a day to do. Taking a few moments each day to engage in mindful breathing exercises or guided meditations can help adult learners centre their minds, reduce stress, and improve focus.
What are some easy mindfulness practices that you could do?
- Mindful Journaling encourages adult learners to keep a mindful journal, where they can reflect on their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. By writing down observations and reflections, learners can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their learning journey.
- Guided Visualisation helps learners relax and focus. For example, adult learners can visualise themselves confidently mastering new skills or successfully applying their knowledge in real-life situations. Such exercises enhance their motivation and create a positive mindset.
2. Seek Social Support
Social support remains an important factor to consider when one speaks of well-being. Unsurprisingly, social support has been linked with better well-being and decreased levels of stress among students. But where does social support take form in adult learning? Imagine being a part of a supportive learning community, where you can find solace in the company of like-minded individuals who understand the unique challenges and triumphs of adult learners. This community can become a place where you can share experiences and exchange ideas.
Here are some ways to manifest social support:
- Online Discussion Forums provide a platform for adult learners to connect and engage with each other through online discussions. Learners can share their challenges, seek advice, and even celebrate achievements. For busy workers, online support can be very appealing as it saves time and it’s more convenient than meeting people face-to-face.
- Peer Mentoring is where learners could form mentoring relationships with their peers. Pairing experienced learners with those who are just starting their journey creates a supportive environment where knowledge and guidance can be shared, empowering everyone involved.
3. Physical Exercise and Movement
It’s easy to get caught up in our pursuit of knowledge while neglecting the needs of our bodies. Physical exercise and movement are not just beneficial for our physical well-being – they also play a vital role in managing stress and enhancing our overall learning experience. Daily active movements not only lower the risk of getting coronary heart disease by 35%, but it also improves stress levels. Whether it’s a brisk walk or a yoga session, including some physical exercise in your routine would be like giving your brain a refreshing boost of vitality, allowing you to approach your studies with renewed vigour and focus.
What are some ways you could incorporate movements in your busy adult learning life?
- Active Study Breaks is a great way to encourage learners to incorporate short exercise breaks into their study routines. Consider stretching, taking a brisk walk, or doing quick workouts to refresh your mind and increase blood flow. These breaks can also enhance focus and reduce mental fatigue.
- Mindful Movement Practices promote mindful movement practices such as yoga, tai chi, or dance. These activities not only provide physical benefits but also cultivate a sense of mindfulness, connecting the body and mind and reducing stress levels.
4. Practising Self-Compassion
A common challenge for adult learners is the relentless cycle of self-criticism. It’s all too easy to become ensnared in the trap of being overly harsh on ourselves when faced with setbacks during our learning journey. Fortunately, self-compassion is a great way to overcome this challenge.
Ways to practice self-compassion:
- Celebrate Milestones by acknowledging and celebrating achievements, no matter how small. By recognising progress and giving credit where its due, learners boost their self-confidence and motivation, creating a positive cycle of growth.
- Positive Self-talk is a great way for learners to incorporate positive affirmations into their daily routine. By repeating affirmations such as “I am capable of overcoming challenges” or “I embrace my learning journey with compassion and curiosity,” learners can cultivate a compassionate mindset and reduce self-criticism.
5. Seek Professional Support
In times of overwhelming stress, no amount of relaxation can help which is why it is important to consider seeking professional support. Professional counsellors, mentors, or coaches can provide guidance, perspective, and strategies for stress management. In the UK, there are more and more mental health care services being provided, some are even free such as NHS talking therapies.
- Counselling Services serve as a great resource that learners can access when they face significant challenges or emotional distress. Trained professionals can provide guidance, support, and coping strategies tailored to individual needs.
- Mentorship Programs can be a good path for learners to connect with experienced professionals in their field. Mentors can offer valuable advice, share their own experiences, and provide guidance on navigating the complexities of the learning journey.
While it may seem counterintuitive in a society that values speed, taking a moment to slow down and prioritise well-being could be an indispensable element for long-term success and personal fulfilment. Take breaks when needed, listen to your body, and honour the value of self-care. Remember, you’re not just aiming for a finish line but striving to create a sustainable and fulfilling path that aligns with your personal aspirations.