Perceived stress and salivary biomarkers in educators: comparison among three stress reduction activities

Doreen Wagner, Kennesaw State University
Sharon M. Pearcey, Kennesaw State University


Background: The teaching profession is a potentially stressful occupation with up to 30% of all novice teachers leaving the profession and annual teacher turnover is higher when compared with turnover of all other occupations. This study investigated the effects of a one-time stress reduction activity (meditation, yoga, or aerobic exercise) in university and K-12 educators who were part of one-day seminar on Stress Reduction. Methods: Participants (N = 26) self-selected their stress reduction activity, completed a demographic questionnaire, educator stress self-assessment tool, and visual analogue scales indicating current stress levels. Salivary cortisol and amylase levels were measured before, immediately after, and 30 minutes after completion of the stress reduction activity. Results: Three (time) by three (activity) mixed factorial ANOVAs were computed for salivary analytes. The ANOVA for cortisol revealed a significant interaction (F (4, 66) = 3.60, p =.01). Comparisons showed significant differences with the aerobic exercise group having significantly higher cortisol levels at the 30-minute post-activity level when compared to the meditation (p <.05, Cohen’s d =.74) and yoga groups (p <.05, Cohen’s d =.52). Conclusion: Overall, the one-time activity of meditation and yoga showed lowered salivary cortisol levels at 30-minutes post-activity when compared to aerobic exercise activity. Additional research to examine the effects of stress reduction on educators in the work setting is needed.