Soothing the Microstress for Effective Lifelong Learning

As an educator, you are no stranger to the hustle and bustle time, especially the exam period. It’s a time when both you and your learners are under immense pressure, and it can be easy to overlook the subtle yet impactful effects of microstress. In this article, we will discuss microstress in educational context, its tremendous effects, and more importantly, how you can identify and prevent it for yourself and your learners. Buckle up!


What is Microstress?

Microstress refers to the granular, daily stressors that build up over time. These are the tiny hassles, inconveniences, and challenges that may seem insignificant on their own but can take a toll on your overall well-being when they accumulate.

Let’s take a quick look at the science behind it!

When you encounter these minor stressors, your body releases stress hormones, like cortisol. In small doses, this can be helpful, but when it happens repeatedly, it can lead to chronic stress, affecting your physical and mental health.


Microstress and its “Ripples” of Impact

Although it is undeniable that both the teaching and learning process are stressful at some points, knowing the long-lasting impact of these so-called “ripples” can help prevent the total meltdown, especially in such an important time as examination. According to Harvard Business Review’s “The Hidden Toll of Microstress”, there are up to 14 sources categorised into 3 types of damage: energy drainage, emotional depletion, and identity disruption. Below are some of the most neglectable circumstances that inevitably lead to burnout in both educators and students:

Tolerate Misalignment

Both learners and educators hold responsibilities that sometimes clash with each other, e.g. assignment requirement versus assignment submission,  provided learning resources versus exam questionnaires or even just the expectation towards the teaching and learning style. Although it seems obvious that these differences should be communicated on the first day of class, some might remain for multiple reasons, ranging from emotional blockage such as lacking trust, shyness to uncertain sceptics. Furthermore, some misalignments only arise during the course, which is difficult to anticipate if both the educators and learners are not experienced in dealing with this sort of problem. 

A Vicious Cycle of Inattentiveness

Moving through our daily lives, both educators and learners often take things for granted, e.g. educators keep giving out general worksheets regardless of individual learning gaps while learners keep making the same mistake over and over again. Convenience in times of crisis may pose as a viable route to keep things rolling by distributing resources evenly with less attention to details. However, learning is a long run, which requires educators to think of a suitable time to snap back to the personalised learning strategy to prevent the cumulative impact, e.g. learners lack fundamentals before the exam. It is the lack of attentiveness in teaching methods that in turn stress educators out the most due to the overwhelming workloads that find their ways back to haunt.

For more exploration on personalised learning, try out HeyHi Assessment, the most rated feature to automatically grade, track and create tailored certified worksheets to bridge learners’ learning gaps.

Stressful Surroundings

Last but not least, another obvious cause of microstress is how ones surround themselves with acknowledged stress-invited individuals. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” (Jim Rohn). Although the controversy circulating this statement is yet to settle, one cannot deny its implication on how influential our daily interactions are. That said, the famous dilemma is how to not invite extra stress to your stress-peace equilibrium while also showing empathy towards those in need, which is stressful on its own to figure out. How can I save a drowning person without drowning myself per se.

Who doesn’t want a supportive and productive learning environment? Check out HeyHi’s 20 Classroom Management Strategies to leverage your teaching with ease.


More than a cure, it’s habit building!

It all starts with “What”

Jumping back to Rita’s cases shown in the “Microstress Ripples” image above, do you see yourself also bubbling with subtle but gradually tremendous stress? Take some time to sit with yourself and start using this template to reflect on your daily, weekly or even monthly stressful accounts, starting from the outward in. Remember, today’s headache could be the result of an unfinished business yesterday or weeks ago, thus, regular reflection is a must in navigating your level of stress, cause of stress and eventually a way to a more balanced living.

Some questions to start with:

  • What is my current emotion?
  • What was the previous emotion that I can recall?
  • What caused the change?

Turning to “How”

If you are given a red and a blue pill, one of which is said to “cure” your stress, which one if you choose? Despite the reference from the famous film The Matrix, it is reasonable to ask for the exact mechanism in this context, especially if you are not specialised in medicine or a fan of this blockbuster in 1999. Choosing either the red or blue pill is not as important as knowing the decision clearly and what you are dealing with afterwards. “Curing” microstress with random advice is like swallowing the pills with both eyes blindfolded. Choose carefully!

Some questions to start with:

  • How does an advised action, e.g. talking to your learners] help? (for example, to align expectation, to clear conflicts, to set boundaries) 
  • How can I act differently with the same goals?
  • How would other educators act in this situation?
  • How so? (for critical thinking in any cases)

Crashing into “Who?” and “Where?”

Having the situation in the palm of your hands, it’s time to seek for specialties to address your problems and solve them with precision. The very first thing you can do next is to categorise your problems to the best of your knowledge and preferences, then, set different priorities for them according to the estimated level of impact and urgency. Last but not least, the job-to-be-done list is a must have after any consultation with others or self research. By tracking your progress, you can motivate yourself with the extra boost of instant gratification and more importantly, the reflection at the end would also be more convenient and fruitful with such immense data.

Worrying about an upcoming stressful exam preparation? Check out this “6 Powerful Steps to Prepare Your Learners for Any Exams”.

Some questions to start with:

  • Who do I trust with [a task, e.g. looking after my class] ?
  • Who did I feel comfortable and safe to be around?
  • Where should I go to seek support?
  • Who would most likely be affected if I do not solve this in time?
  • Who would least likely be affected if I do not solve this in time?

Landing on “Why?”

It’s a long process of truly pulling yourself together, which is why keeping the motivation, the “inner-fire” burning is also important for the success of the entire stress-relief project. Your less stressful self not only decreases the pressure on others but also improves the quality of work and life satisfaction in general. That’s said, instead of painting a vibrant future where you are completely stress-relief, try seeing it in your daily improvements as high expectations for the far-fetch future come with mis-match in today’s performance, which obviously invites stress initially. Keep yourself out of the vicious cycle of inattentiveness by encouraging yourself with attainable goals, that’s a reasonable “why”.

Some questions to start with:

  • Why do I start teaching?
  • Why now that I want to change?

Let HeyHi seep into your daily teaching and learning progress to leverage productivity and reduce stress! Leveraging Generative AI, we empower educators to:

  • Boost assessment efficiency with our question and assessment generator.
  • Craft personalised lesson modules in e-book and videos with ease.
  • Give 24/7 support for all students with our AI Learning Buddy.
  • Create unique learning journeys for each student, maximising their potential.
  • And many more!

Start a new chapter of revolutionised teaching with HeyHi. Let us know how we can help you best by contacting us today.


About HeyHi

HeyHi is an AI-enabled assessment & personalised adaptive learning system, in a collaborative learning space. We empower educators through unique features such as extensive ready-to-use question bank, AI Worksheet Generator, and Performance Analytics to pinpoint learning gaps and enable adaptive assessments. Utilising comprehensive student learning data, we leverage generative AI to personalise the learning experience for each individual student.


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