How to Relieve Back to School Stress
One of the leading causes of back-to-school stress for parents is money. Budgets are often already stretched tight at the end of summer. And parents have the stress of figuring out how to pay for their children’s school uniforms, school supplies, and extracurricular activities.
However, while parents have these very valid concerns, their kids’ stress can often be overlooked or can even go unnoticed. But it’s just important to acknowledge children’s anxiety and discover ways to relieve back-to-school stress.
How does back-to-school stress affect kids?
If they’re at the same school, stress could come from bullies, unpleasant teachers, an increased workload, or high expectations. An increased workload, in particular, can be a significant source of stress for kids, especially for children whose time is already spread thin due to their participation in extracurricular activities.
Parents dealing with their own back-to-school stress may not immediately notice that their child is struggling, but there are some warning signs that they can look out for to gain insight.
Warning signs that your kids are stressed
Children are usually unable to deal with stress without assistance, especially younger children. Parents must be able to see the signs that their kids are stressed to help them manage and reduce their stress levels. Some of the most obvious warning signs that a kid is stressed include:
- Unexplained crying
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in sleep habits
- Being more needy than normal
- Frequent stomach aches
- Concentration problems
- Appearing restless
- Seeming more negative than usual
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but if a kid’s stress and anxiety last more than a fortnight and starts to interfere with their life, it could be a sign that a child has anxiety.
If left untreated and unmanaged, stress and anxiety could cause social issues, academic problems, and lead to depression.
How can back-to-school stress affect health?
Unmanaged stress can cause a cascade of health issues. Chronic stress refers to a condition where the body is constantly in a state of stress. However, this tension level could also mean that the body is unable to downregulate after a stressful situation has occurred and passed.
Usually, a quick response to a stressful situation is designed to keep people safe from danger, so they can, for example, run away from a predator. In someone with normal stress levels, their stress hormones return to normal once the danger has passed.
But in someone with chronic stress, this is not the case, and the constant state of anxiety can suppress the immune system, digestive system, reproductive system, and sleep. Chronic stress causes these vital systems and processes in the body to stop working correctly, leading to other health issues.
For example, someone with a suppressed immune system is more likely to get sick frequently. People with compromised digestive systems may experience an upset stomach.
Over time, these problems could lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. Luckily, there are some simple, actionable tips that parents can use to help both themselves and their kids relieve back-to-school stress.
Tips to reduce back-to-school stress
Stress management is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, especially since it is impossible to eliminate stress altogether. For parents, stress management could help decrease their risks of severe health issues later in life. For kids, simple lifestyle techniques can help them learn to manage stress better, also reducing their risks for stress-related illnesses.
1. Incorporate fruits and veggies
Eat fruits and veggies during back-to-school season. Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that can help strengthen the immune system, boost the brain, and improve mood. A delicious, nutrient-dense smoothie could look like some avocado, blueberries, beets, and bananas blended with non-dairy milk and some orange juice.
2. Try essential oils
Certain essential oils have a calming effect on the body. Parents can take a bath with lavender and chamomile essential oils. Or, they can make some homemade bath salts by mixing two cups of Epsom salts with a few drops of essential oil and pouring that into a bath. Turning on some music and dimming the lights also create a peaceful atmosphere.
Additionally, if parents want to use essential oils to help their kids relax, they can make sachet pillows. Or, they can get diffusers to have the essential oil scent permeate the home or car.
Also, parents can make a simple essential oil “doll,” which is a handkerchief stuffed with either essential-oil-soaked cotton or dried flower petals. All parents have to do is pinch it and tie some yarn around it to make the head. Then, they should gather two sides to make little arms, and the rest can hang loosely.
3. Make school fun
If parents know or suspect that starting school might be stressful for their kids, it’s crucial to change their perception about school to make it more fun. Parents can do this by creating special back-to-school traditions, which their kids will know to look forward to year after year. This tip will help change children’s mindset about starting school and help relieve back-to-school stress.
Parents are exhausted from juggling work and childcare. No one can blame them for occasionally missing the signs that their child is struggling. However, it is critical to pay close attention to what children say and do, especially if they exhibit negative behavior about school. If parents spend some time listening, they’ll nip a stress problem in the bud.
5. Prioritize sleep
Sleep is vital for everyone, but it is often neglected. Parents should try to get enough sleep to give their bodies time to rest and unwind, and children should go to bed around the same time every night to create a routine. Children up to the third grade need about 12 hours of sleep a night, while high-schoolers benefit from a good eight to 10 hours.
6. Mindset reset
It can be easy to dwell on the negatives, especially when parents and their children are stressed out. But it can be helpful to shift to more positive messaging to change the household’s mindset about a specific issue. If kids are stressed about starting school, parents should remind them that they’ll get to see their friends, learn amazing new things, and have fun in extracurricular activities.
Stress management is important
Stress is inevitable. It is impossible to completely eliminate stress, which makes stress management even more important. Stress leads to various health issues, ranging from digestive problems to heart disease.
That’s why it’s so crucial to relieve back-to-school stress. Doing so will allow parents and their kids to effectively set up for success and take on the school year without feeling anxious.