Helping Students Battle Anxiety and Stress

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There seems to be an enormous amount of pressure put on students these days--state testing, school admission requirements, taking rigorous and challenging classes to compete, staying on top of school work, volunteering and extra curricular activities--it can really add up. And we do our students a huge disservice if we don't teach them how to cope with it now. 

 

Help Students Learn to Identify Their Triggers

I have personally always loved to be busy. Unlike most people, my stress has always come when I was not busy--I felt like a windfall was coming and I wouldn't be prepared. For other people, having a huge test or too many different things to do can stress them out. Help your student identify the times they become stressed out and help them identify patterns--this way they can be proactive. Do they tend to get stressed as a deadline approaches? Perhaps working ahead will help alleviate stress and anxiety. Do they worry about tests? Studying in small chunks can help guarantee they will better retain the information. A solution, however, cannot be determined until triggers are identified. 

Help Students Face Failure

Many students put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect. However, most growth happens when we struggle. For students who fear failure, talking about what happens when we fail, what we can learn from a failure, and how to pick themselves back up after a failure will help alleviate some of that stress. It is best that we teach students how to work from a failure then to continue to encourage them to push into each task for perfection. Failure at some point is inevitable, and is actually a good thing for what it can teach us. Help students deal with it when they are young so that they are prepared when they are independent adults. 

Teach Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been receiving a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. Spending a few minutes each day focusing on being present can slow down the mind and relieve a lot of anxiety. To practice mindfulness, find a space in each day for your student to get quiet, slow down his breathing, and really focus on how he is feeling. There are many websites and apps that will assist in this process. My favorite is the Headspace App, which includes a daily 10 minute guided mediation. Find out more here: https://www.headspace.com/

Exercise

This tried and true stress relief plan is still a great coping mechanism. Going for a walk outside, for a run, lifting weights, taking a dance class or learning martial arts are all great ways to release endorphins and relieve stress. They are also great ways to make friends, find a hobby, and create balance in your student's life. Help your student find an exercise fit for her and encourage her to regularly practice or participate. 

Sleep

Teens need more sleep than most other age groups, but they usually get the least amount of sleep. Students will stay up late studying, talking on their cell phones, and using the internet. Remind your student about the importance of sleep and how getting enough sleep helps you feel calmer and more focused, and encourage your student to turn off the technology and get some shut eye. The next day will prove to be more productive if your student gets the full benefit of a great night's sleep. 

Self-Care

Help your student identify the hobby or calming exercise that she most enjoys and finds calming. It could be something as common place as taking a bubble bath, painting, listening to music, or playing a game. It could also be reading something not for school, spending time with family, friends, or other people who fill their spirit with positivity, or cooking or baking. Whatever it is, help your student carve out the time to complete the activities that bring her joy.