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Natural Awakenings Boston

Reducing Stress, Building Resilience in Teens

Aug 03, 2015 03:08PM

The 2014 annual survey of the American Psychological Association found that teens reported experiencing more stress than all other age demographics. Now a new study offers hope for helping them. The study, published in the journal Advances, describes how the stress-reduction and resilience-building curriculum at the Benson- Henry Institute (BHI) helped a group of Boston-area high school students to significantly reduce their anxiety levels, increase productivity and effectively manage stress over time.

The BHI’s Resilient Youth program (formerly known as the Education Initiative) trains educators in a curriculum focused on the science of stress and relaxation. It includes relaxation strategies such as breathing and imagery, and positive psychology techniques such as reframing thoughts. In the recent study, 12 teachers from the Edward M. Kennedy School, in Dorchester, received training in the resilience curriculum and implemented it with students over the course of six to eight weeks.

Kennedy School students that received the curriculum reported significantly less perceived stress and anxiety, and a greater ability to manage stress and practice healthy lifestyle behaviors. This was true immediately after the program and one year later, indicating both short- and long-term effectiveness. Researchers hope to build on this evidence with larger studies in the future. Specifically, Resilient Youth directors want to understand which aspects of the resilience curriculum are most effective and how long students continue to use the skills they learn.


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