Three Ways to Combat Back-to-school Stress

School is underway for this year, which means late nights, big projects and drama in friend groups. Stress is ubiquitous in any academic environment, especially when everything a student does is being judged either by peers or by teachers in the form of grades. Knowing how to balance different relationships, schoolwork, extracurricular activities and even a job can seem impossible and being overwhelmed by it all can up stress levels.

At ELEOS Psychology Center of Minnesota, we know stress. We know the toll it can take on children and teens who have gone back to school. However, we also know how to help them through stressful times. With the help of the welcoming and compassionate therapists at ELEOS, children and teens who are experiencing the stress of going back to school will get the help and learn the skills they need to cope with stress and take school one day at a time while learning to enjoy it.

What Is Stress?

Stress is difficult to define as people experience and react to it in so many different ways. Scientifically, stress is the “nonspecific response of the body to any demand for change.” When you experience stress, your body releases hormones that are intended to mobilize you, give you energy and help you adapt to new circumstances. This means that stress isn’t always inherently bad. A low level of stress may induce just the right amount of hormone release to give you the energy to run the best race, study for hours or power through a big project. However, when too many stress-inducing circumstances take place, “good stress” can quickly turn to distress. Too much stress can make performance plummet and exhaustion or ill health set in.

Students might become stressed for any number of reasons at school: Their homework load is too much, their friends are fighting and they don’t want to pick a side, bullying, grades, sports—the list of stressors is seemingly endless. The accumulation of emotionally and physically demanding events could cause distress when left unchecked, and that’s where ELEOS Psychology Center can help.

A Variety of Stressful Situations in School

As mentioned above, the school year can be full of stressors. Over-scheduling, heavy homework loads and the pressure to succeed can take physical and mental tolls on students today. And if physical work and activity wasn’t enough to quickly cause too much stress, add in drama that can occur between friends and peers. With so many circumstances happening at one time during any school day, it’s no wonder stress can set in even at the thought of going back to school.

Some academic concerns our therapists can help with include:

Academic underachievement
Adjustment difficulties
Low frustration tolerance
Peer difficulties
School transitions

When kids and teens, even college-aged students, experience stress from any of these sources, it’s important to get help.

It’s Time to Learn the Skills You Need to Tackle Stress

Experiencing distress isn’t uncommon. The American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all teens are stressed by pressures stemming from school with homework leading way. When stress goes too far for too long, students can start experiencing health problems.

Severe stress may be a risk factor for diabetes, especially if it’s experienced early in life. It can physically spur headaches, chest pain, tension and an upset stomach. Emotionally, stressed students may feel restless, depressed, irritable and overwhelmed. By discovering how to take control of stress, students are better able to prepare themselves for the school year ahead and can take the proper steps when they feel too much stress coming on.

Through evidence-based therapy, the therapists at ELEOS can guide students toward a healthy and happy academic life. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one way to learn how your feelings affect your thoughts and behaviors—how stressful events affect how you act or perform. As stress is a unique experience for everyone, understanding how you approach and react to stressful situations could be the key to coping with and better managing stress. After all, learning ways to approach stressful situations could be the difference between a good school year and a great school year.

If therapy isn’t a possibility right now, students should consider these three stress-reducing techniques they can do on their own.

Regular exercise: As mentioned earlier, stress releases hormones that can motivate and energize. When too much “energy” builds up, though, that’s when stress can go awry. Exercising regularly is a great way to release that pent-up energy and stave off the detrimental effects of too much stress.

School-hobby balance: This is a very important key to stress management while in school. Many times, people become distressed when they feel like they are losing control of situations in their life. For students, they could start to feel like they have no control over their lives: Their schedules are dictated by school hours, extracurricular practices, and time needed to successfully complete homework. And whatever free time could be had during the weekend is quickly taken away by more studying, projects, a volleyball tournament or even a part-time job. When students start to feel overwhelmed from overscheduling, it’s time to strike a balance.

Students should consider taking manageable classes—consider taking one less advanced class to better manage homework. Or they should thoughtfully weigh which activities they enjoy the most and focus on those. This means parents have to show empathy and listen to their children if they don’t want to be a part of several clubs or activities. Everyone should have time to do the hobbies they enjoy most, and when it gets taken away, situations can get more stressful.

Practice relaxation methods: Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, massages—all of these are ideal relaxation methods one can practice in just minutes a day if time is short. By taking time to try a relaxation method, students could lower their heart rate, reduce the activity of stress hormones, improve concentration, enhance sleep quality and lower fatigue. Students will come out with a clearer mind and be better able to make decisions or face the day ahead.

Back to School Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

Heading back to school shouldn’t mean fearing a season of too much stress and too little sleep or fun. The school year should be a time for learning while enjoying the experience. If you’re a student or the parent of a student interested in learning more about therapy for managing stress, chat with us today. The therapists at ELEOS Psychology Center are waiting to help Minnesotans cope with stress and learn how to enjoy school instead of dread it.