Reduce Occupational Stress in School Principals with Yoga
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“yoga is a good practice in the workplace as a means of reducing stress,” said Stacy Hunter
Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this exhaustion not only affects teachers and administrators personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. School principals are in a particularly stressful position dealing not only with teachers, staff, and students, but also with parents, school boards, and system administrators.
Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving school principal psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments. Yoga practice has the extra benefits of not only being mindfulness training but also as an exercise. Hence, it’s important to study the effects of yoga practice on the psychological health and burnout symptoms of school principals.
In today’s Research News article “Impact of residential yoga training on occupational stress and health promotion in principals.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7161695/) Verma and colleagues recruited veteran school principals with at least 15 years of experience and provided them with 7 days of yoga practice for 1 hour and 45 minutes twice daily along with 3 hours of daily lectures on stress management, yoga for total health, meditation, yoga in school education, and scientific basis of yoga and pranayama. They were measured before and after the week’s training for occupational stress, including role overload, role ambiguity, role conflict, unreasonable group and political pressure, responsibility for persons, under participation, powerlessness, poor peer relations, intrinsic impoverishment, law status, strenuous working condition, and unprofitability.
They found that in comparison to baseline, after yoga training there were significant improvements in occupational stress, including role overload, role ambiguity, role conflict, under participation, powerlessness, intrinsic impoverishment, and law status. But the study should be considered as a pilot study as there was no control group. The before-after research design is subject to a large number of alternative confounding interpretations including demand characteristics, participant expectation effects, attention effects, experimenter bias, etc. So, the positive findings of a significant reduction in occupational stress after the training should be seen as suggesting that is reasonable to conduct a randomized controlled trial.
So, reduce occupational stress in school principals with yoga.
“If you find yourself feeling cranky, wound up, or lethargic during the workday, get your body moving! See if you can take a break for some “office yoga,” especially beneficial if your job keeps you seated for most of the day.” – Nishita Morris
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Verma, A., Shete, S. U., & Doddoli, G. (2020). Impact of residential yoga training on occupational stress and health promotion in principals. Journal of education and health promotion, 9, 30. https://doi.org/10.4103/jehp.jehp_394_19
Occupational stress is known as harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the resources, needs, or capabilities of an employee, leading to poor mental and physical health.
The objective of the present study was to assess the effect of 1-week residential yoga training program on occupational stress and its subscales among principals.
Thirty-three principals with ages 40–59 years completed the assessment. They received yoga training at Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute. All the participants were recruited by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan as part of their on-duty yoga training. At the baseline and after 1 week of yoga training participants were assessed for occupational stress. The yoga intervention was given in the morning and evening for 105 min. Apart from yoga training, all the participants were engaged in lectures based on stress management, yoga for total health, meditation, yoga in school education, and scientific basis of yoga, daily for 3 h.
The principals showed a significant decrease in role overload (P < 0.001), role ambiguity (P < 0.01), role conflict (P < 0.05), under participation (P < 0.001), powerlessness (P < 0.001), intrinsic impoverishment (P < 0.01), law status (P < 0.001), and overall occupational stress (P < 0.001) after 7 days of yoga training intervention. However, there was no significant change in unreasonable group and political pressure (P > 0.05), responsibility for persons (P > 0.05), poor peer relations (P > 0.05), strenuous working conditions (P > 0.05), and unprofitability (P > 0.05) after yoga training intervention.
The present study suggests that 1 week of residential yoga training program can improve occupational stress in principals.