Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stress Strategies


With the end of the quarter fast approaching, schoolwork is undoubtedly piling up and causing your student a fair amount of stress. We all get over-extended sometimes, whether it's because of school, work, or just daily life situations. Stress is often unavoidable, but fortunately there are ways to help manage it. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Exercise can be an enormous stress reliever. We all know about the physical benefits, but the mental and emotional benefits are just as important. Regular exercise can reduce the level of stress hormones in your body; it also increases the production of Endorphins in your brain to facilitate a happy, positive, and overall relaxed feeling and improve focus.  Just 20-30 minutes a day of any exercise, even taking a walk, can make a big difference.
  • Listening to your favorite music can be a wonderful way to de-stress. Do this either while doing routine homework, or give yourself mini-breaks every so often and listen to a song or two.  Studies have shown that it is best not to listen to music when studying for a test and trying to retain information.
  • For many of us, there just aren't enough hours in the day. However, scheduling in some regular personal time for yourself is incredibly important when it comes to stress management. Too often we just go, go, go without taking a moment to breathe and check in with ourselves mentally. This personal time is just as important as any of the other things you have going on, so treat it as such and schedule it in accordingly.
  • Few things wear you down faster than not getting enough sleep. Teenagers especially need 8 or 9 hours a night. Undoubtedly your student is busy with a myriad of commitments, both academic and personal, but it is crucial that he factors a solid night's sleep into his schedule. Take into consideration every assignment and extra-curricular activity, then plan a set bedtime and try to stick to it.
  • Nutrition can also play a huge part in your stress-management routine. Fast food might be convenient, but too much can have a detrimental effect on your health, and thus how you feel. Make sure that your student has access to healthy snacks, and even if there is limited time for an evening meal, that doesn't mean you have to head for the drive-thru. Planning and cooking on the weekends is a great time-saver; just pop them in the freezer, and defrost when it's time to eat.
  • Keeping a journal, reading for pleasure, and drawing are excellent ways to process your stress and make down-time more emotionally productive.  
  • Have family meals whenever possible.  Connecting with those close to you, sharing your day and thoughts, and laughing together will help everyone relax.

The remaining stress-management tips were taken from http://www.helpguide.org/, a non-profit resource site that helps people help themselves, and others:

  • Having the right mindset is easier said than done, but can make all the difference in how you handle stress. For starters, don't try to control the uncontrollable. We can't prevent certain situations, and we can't control our feelings, but we CAN choose how we react to things. Try to look for an upside, and share your thoughts and emotions with someone you trust. Learn to forgive (yourself and others), and free yourself of negative energy.
  • Do something you enjoy everyday. Whatever it is, allow yourself to have this time free of judgement or guilt.
  • If there are animals in your life, spend time with them to relax. Take the dog for a walk, or watch a TV show with the cat in your lap.

Unfortunately, stress is often unavoidable. We all get weighed down from time to time with the pressures of everyday life, but it's important to remember that there are ways to cope. The list of suggestions doesn't end here, either; what are some stress-management strategies that work for you? The more prepared you are to handle stress, the easier it will be to deal with everything when those overwhelming moments arise.

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