At this time of year, we often begin to notice signs of stress in students. Either senior year is coming to a close, or juniors are taking and re-taking standardized tests. Everyone is feeling the pressure to do their best, knowing that some enormous life changes are just around the corner.
It’s always better to prevent stress than deal with it after the fact. But either way, these seven tips can help you address and manage it.
Promote regular sleep. Consistent sleep is more important than another hour of studying. Encourage your student to go to bed on time, every night. Practice healthy sleep habits such as avoiding screen time at least two hours before bedtime, exercising during the day, getting enough sunlight, and investing in a good mattress, pillow, light-blocking curtains, and noise machine (whatever applies to your situation).
Encourage regular exercise. Exercise does aid sleep, but overall it fights stress as well. Encourage your student to ditch the books and get outside a bit each day, or at least hit the gym.
Praise the effort, rather than the outcome. Focus on your student’s actions and effort, and support their responsible choices and hard work. The outcome won’t always be perfect, and that’s okay. Consistently putting forth the right effort is what truly matters.
Plan for procrastination. No one is 100 percent motivated all of the time. Make a plan to address procrastination and promote motivation when you begin to see it creeping in. Help them break work into manageable segments, offer benchmark rewards, or simply hang out with them during study time. Sometimes company goes a long way.
Integrate stress management into your own life. Find what works for you, and devote yourself to practicing it regularly. You can set a good example for your teen, and you might even discover a relaxing hobby together.
Accept a little bit of stress. A small amount of stress is a good thing. It promotes us to work harder and more efficiently. Just monitor it and make regular adjustments so that minor stress doesn’t become major anxiety.
Remember what’s really important. If you look at the data on adult happiness, you will notice something surprising: Happiness does not necessarily depend upon academic and financial success, other than living above the poverty level. Good relationships and fulfilling work appear to be much more important predictors of long-term happiness. So, while getting into college and choosing a career are important, one bad grade or even a bad year are unlikely to be the roadblocks you might imagine. Adjust your own expectations, and your teen will take the cue.