While going back to school can be an exciting time for kids and parents, it can also be extremely stressful. Children are more likely to experience back-to-school stress if they already suffer from a mental health disorder. By helping your child manage their stress and fatigue, you can make their back-to-school transition as relaxing and positive as possible.
What Causes Back-to-School Stress in Teens?
Teens may struggle with stress from schoolwork, friends, or social anxiety. While bullies are an obvious source of interpersonal stress, friends are also a problem. Because teens are so concerned about what their friends think, they may feel back-to-school stress and anxiety when they are around their closest friends.
Modern kids have also come of age during a pandemic. Some students may be worried about COVID-related concerns. Other than worrying about getting sick, they may be concerned about spreading diseases to an immunocompromised loved one.
Students may be worried about finding their homeroom and classes on the first day. If they are transitioning to a different school, they may be afraid of making new friends. In addition, kids may worry about their appearance, like acne outbreaks or unpopular clothes.
Back-to-School Stress for Teens Struggling with Mental Health
Back-to-school stress is worse for teenagers who already have other mental health concerns. Chronic stress can cause someone to experience a sense of paralysis or panic. This can lead to even more stress because the teenager feels unable to move forward.
Teens who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may struggle to track their assignments, and many students with ADHD had a difficult time with remote schooling. Because they have more problems focusing, it is hard for these students to complete their homework assignments on time, listen in class, and stay still.
School stress is also challenging for teens who have depression. When someone is depressed, they are apathetic and lack the motivation to hang out with friends or complete assignments. While seeing friends can provide a mood boost, the mere act of getting out of bed can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
Back-to-school stress for parents and teenagers can worsen the symptoms of a mental illness. If the child doesn’t get help, it can impact their grades, friendships, and life satisfaction. In addition to having mental and physical side effects, untreated school stress can also make it harder for the teen to graduate.
How to Help Teens Manage Stress and Fatigue
If your teen is suffering from back-to-school stress, help is available. From writing in a journal to mindfulness meditation, these techniques can make going back to school a calmer, more enjoyable experience.
1. Share the Positives of Returning to School
Sometimes, people forget about the positive aspects of life. Dwelling on the negatives can end up causing more stress, so help your child look toward the bright side.
2. Get Them into Sports or Other Extracurricular Activities
Exercise increases endorphins, which naturally improve your mood. Better physical fitness can also impact the child’s confidence and self-esteem. Plus, extracurricular activities can give your child friends and a sense of belonging.
3. Follow a Routine
Sometimes, the best thing kids can do is fake it until they make it. Going through a daily routine can help teens eventually mitigate feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
4. Write in a Journal
Writing in a journal for just five minutes a day has been found to boost happiness levels. It gives teens an outlet for their feelings, which can alleviate stress.
5. Help Them Learn Mindfulness
You can help your child deal with stress from school by teaching them mindfulness meditation. Other than helping them learn to exist in the present moment, this technique can also improve mental clarity, memory, compassion, and life satisfaction.
6. Seek Professional Assistance
Back-to-school stress can sometimes indicate other mental health problems. Through the help of a mental health professional, your child can get the support they need to live a happy, fulfilling life.
Learn Better Ways to Cope with School Stress
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, OC Specialty Health & Hospitals’s adolescent services can help. Please reach out to us at 949-900-8600 (Aliso Ridge Behavioral Health) or 714-243-9000 (Anaheim Community Hospital). Help is just a phone call away.