Tessa Zimmerman: An ASSET To Manage Anxiety And Stress

During elementary and middle school in Westport, Tessa Zimmerman suffered severe anxiety and panic attacks. Teachers tried to help, she says, but really did not know what to do.

In 2008 she transferred to Easton Country Day School. Smaller classes, and staff trained in mindfulness and positive psychology, helped mitigate her anxiety and stress.

After graduation, Zimmerman headed to the Watson Institute at Lynn University. She studied social entrepreneurship.

Tessa Zimmerman

In the years since, she’s put those lessons into practice. She’s the founder and executive director of ASSET Education. The Boulder-based nonprofit trains and equips educators with concrete tools to help students reduce stress and build resilience.

Each week, Zimmerman says, the organization impacts 40,000 students, in dozens of schools.

In 2018, the National Education Association called anxiety and stress “epidemic.”

That was before COVID. Today, Zimmerman says, there’s a “state of emergency” in youth mental health.

At the same time, a continuing focus on standardized testing, college admissions and job-related skills like STEM limit the amount of time schools can spend on stress reduction — while those same focuses actually increase anxiety.

ASSET offers bite-sized lessons, which can be fit in at the beginning of a class. That’s important Zimmerman says. After all, “We’re not wired to learn when we’re stressed.”

Zimmerman’s goal is to “start conversations about this. When I was growing up, we didn’t talk about my anxiety and stress.”

Eventually, she found ways to cope.

“I got through,” she says. “Now I want to give other kids hope too.”

Click below for Tessa Zimmerman’s a TEDx talk on youth mental health.

One response to “Tessa Zimmerman: An ASSET To Manage Anxiety And Stress

  1. Barbara Greenspan

    Kudos to Tessa Zimmerman! This is so important!