Notebooks, and Backpacks and Pencils, Oh My!
If school is not already back in session in your household, it will be soon! The first few weeks of “back to school” can be exciting for parents and kids, but it can also be a cause of notable stress. Whether you are sending your “baby” off to kindergarten, worried about your 3rd grader finding friends, or focused on helping your high school freshman choose classes, there is likely some stress building up(for all involved).
Below are some tips to help manage school year stress. Many of them can be applied to kids as well as parents/caretakers.
Plan/work ahead. The seemingly small tasks add up. Be sure clothes are picked out, lunches are packed, and bags are ready and by the door. Write or think through the to-do list for the next couple of days and take care of the things that you can now. This is especially important if you are a procrastinator.
Get enough sleep. The excitement surrounding a change in routine can make life hectic. Be sure to do your best to get a proper night’s sleep. Forgetfulness, impaired judgment, depression, premature aging, grogginess and irritability, these are just some of the side effects insufficient sleep can cause. A lack of sleep can also contribute to a range of serious physical health problems.
Eat wholesome nutritious foods. Our bodies need proper nutrition to function at their best. Families that plan their meals and snacks are less likely to eat out, and meals prepared at home are more likely to be wholesome and nutritious. There are many resources for meal planning including services that plan your meals as well as your shopping lists.
Be aware of your “spiritual wellness”. It is possible that a feeling of “something is off” spiritually, will likely impact other areas of life. If an individual is spiritually well, they will be better able to cope with all of life’s ups and downs.
Choose extracurricular/”other” activities wisely. Be sure to balance these activities and avoid overcommiting. Being involved in too many activities can be a stressor. It is ok to say no to some things.
Know your stressors. A stressor is something or someone that causes stress. There are a wide range of back to school stressors, they include (not limited to): lack of organization, being overcommitted, lack of sleep, poor parent/teacher or teacher/student relationships, peer relational problems, and financial concerns. Make sure you are aware of personal stressors so that they do not catch you off guard. Be proactive in working through stressors.
Be aware of your child’s emotional wellbeing. Back to school stress for children and adolescents may not be something that is typically given a huge amount of consideration, yet some students really have a difficult time. Some students may even experience extreme worry, anxiety or mild depression during this time of the year. If your child is struggling despite you being proactive in lessening back to school stress, talk to them about their concerns. In some situations it may be beneficial to discuss your concerns with a professional. Often, situational stressors can be identified and addressed in short term therapy.