Math as a stress reliever

Theme: Photo of the Week

I’ve been struggling to get into the groove with blogging, and then I came across a reminder about #SundayFunday and felt inspired to sit down and make it happen.  Although the actual photo isn’t very exciting, I like the story behind it.

unit circle.jpg

Short story: One of my students saw a blank unit circle worksheet lying on my desk and asked if she could fill it out “just for fun.”  🙂

The longer story:  This student (let’s call her Chloe) is the type of student who gets involved in anything and everything.  Her teachers worry that she is over-committed as she often demonstrates high levels of stress and anxiety.  Although Friday was a student-free day for conferences, Chloe came to school to work on a project for IB Film.  I returned to my room at 4:30pm and found her working at one of the large tables.  She’s been dealing with some friendship issues, so she came in for advice.  While I was reading a journal entry that outlined the drama taking place with 3 different friend groups (keeping track of the names and events was nearly as difficult as remembering characters and storylines in Games of Thrones), she saw the unit circle and excitedly sat down to complete it.  Before I even opened my mouth to offer my thoughts on her friend situation, she was visibly more relaxed.  “I don’t know why, but I just really like doing math like that. I find it calming.”  As a Learning Support teacher, that is not how students typically describe working with the unit circle!  I suppose one person’s stressor is another person’s stress reliever.

Why this matters:  Stress is a personal experience.  Although I didn’t fully understand Chloe’s friendship drama, the fact that she was “in a fight with all of her friends” was causing stress and preventing her from thinking about anything else.  It brought a smile to my face that math was the first step in reducing her stress.  Math probably (definitely) won’t be the solution for every student, but it’s important for us to help students find their personal “unit circle” for times of stress.  For me, it’s puzzles 🙂

Today’s Little Thing: Puzzles with a surprise! (See caption)  Since I already outed myself as a stress-puzzler, I figured puzzles should be today’s little thing.  I believe there are lots of lessons to be learned from this little thing, but this year, in particular, puzzles have taught me about my own levels of stress.  The extent to which I have used puzzles as an escape has helped me reflect on the fact that I, like Chloe, am over-committed and highly stressed.  Although puzzles have served as a great stress reliever, I also need to take steps to find more balance in the other aspects of my life.


I bought this puzzle at Goodwill, so I prepared myself for the disappointment of a missing piece or two.  To my surprise, it came with a duplicate of one of the orange flower pieces!


One thought on “Math as a stress reliever

  1. Pingback: Photo of the Week, #MTBoS | I Speak Math

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