school stress

5 Simple Tricks to Relieve Academic-Related Stress

“Worrying is often triggered by wanting to make the perfect choice or by trying to maximize everything. When buying a used car, you want one that is cheap, reliable, safe, sexy, the right color, and fuel efficient.

Unfortunately, no single option is likely to be the best in all those dimensions. If you try to have the best of everything, you’re likely to be paralyzed by indecision or dissatisfied with your choice.” (Alex Corb, author of the Upward Spiral).

Studies have shown that academic-related stress is sky rocketing among high school students each decade. As the academic level of competition rises between teenagers, along with it comes an increased national average of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or even alcohol and substance abuse.

However, I’m here to tell you 5 simple tricks that will help you relieve stress, increase focus, and produce healthier and more effective results on a daily basis.

 

1) Write down things you look forward to and be mindful of them

According to studies in The Happiness Advantage, setting a date for a potentially enjoyable experience raises endorphin levels in your brain by 27%. No matter what you have going on in your day, keep a sticky note in your backpack of all the enjoyable events coming up in the next month.

That might be something as simple as grabbing a slice of pizza with a friend this weekend, seeing a movie with your family, going for a walk with your dog after school, or planning a social event with classmates, teammates, or co-workers next week. Creating positive anticipation in your life will increase neurotransmitters, raising endorphin levels and reducing stress and anxiety.

 

2) Exercise!

No one likes being told to exercise… (especially with an exclamation point at the end of it). But I promise you it helps not only from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint as well.

A Harvard study has shown that regular exercise creates health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. “High-intensity exercise releases the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins, resulting in the “runner’s high” that joggers report,” ultimately reducing depression symptoms (Harvard Health Letter).

 

3) Organization and Routine

If your stressed out with academics, athletics, job hunting, or your internship, take a look at your daily routine and see if you could find the source.

Get up before school with twenty minutes to spare (reducing anxiety of being late or forgetful), take the time to eat a healthy breakfast to fuel your energy for the day, do your homework at the same time every day to get in a systematic routine, take another twenty minutes to review your notes after your school day to help you consistently reinforce the processing of class material, and even say hi or socialize with one person every day that you wouldn’t normally have a conversation with (I promise you it will get easier).

An organized routine of healthy habits is the easiest way to create that neurological upward spiral.

 

4) Find a mentor

This one is fairly simple. Find an upperclassman, teacher, relative, or teammate that you respect and can confide in, specifically someone who is older than you and has gone through your current stage of life.

This type of mentor can serve as a knowledgeable guide that can give you academic and career advice, or when you are just feeling stressed out after a tough day.

 

5) Sleep

No one can have a healthy and productive day without sleep. I don’t care who they are or how much money they’ve made. Sleep is the foundation from which your energy and motivation comes from.

If you get the 8 hours of sleep that your body needs each night, you will be more focused and attentive throughout your day. The last thing you need is to be caught snoozing in class when your crush finally complements your new hair-cut.

How to Support Your Child with Senioritis

In the dictionary, Senioritis is described as, “a supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.” It’s the word “supposed” that makes me laugh. Because when I asked my senior daughter to describe Senioritis, she said, “Teachers should acknowledge that second semester of senior year is exhausting and they should give us a break. Teachers think Senioritis is a joke and they get angry at it.”

After doing four performances of her high school musical this weekend, two months of after school and Saturday rehearsals, debates on alternative weekends, college applications, SAT’s, college essays, and keeping up a full load of honors classes there is not much left of her. And the thought of not knowing where she will be attending school next year, where she will be living, knowing she will be away from family and friends is only adding to the stress.

These seniors are mentally and physically exhausted. As juniors they were told by college counselors to keep up the rigor in senior year. That colleges don’t want to see you taking easy classes. So in my daughter’s case, this year has been one of her toughest academically. “I thought senior year was supposed to be fun,” she often says. From my point of view, this year as been anything but. There are fun things ahead; a senior class trip, Prom, yearbook day, graduation, but even those events have deadlines and inherent pressures.

And what about the parents? Aren’t we entitled to a bit of Senioritis too, or how about Parentitis? I don’t know about other parents with seniors, but I am exhausted. The journey to college has been constant, stressful, emotional and unnerving at times. I cannot wait to have this all behind us and hope my daughter winds up in the perfect college for her in the perfect dorm with the perfect roommate. But I know perfection is not possible and only imagine there will be lots of hands on counseling from afar next year.

So maybe Senioritis is a “supposed affliction” and not acknowledged by teachers. But it’s real in my house. And how best to support my daughter when I don’t have many reserves left? As my fiend, Gwen said in last week’s blog, “I tried to keep things calm and light and make sure she was never late, had everything she needed and was fed and watered.” Thanks, Gwen, I will be applying those ideas to help get us through the rest of this year. At least fed and watered I can handle.

Supporting A Family Member During College Admission Season

Thanksgiving is a time of family, togetherness, and food…lots of food. For adults, it’s one of the most laid-back holidays of the year (unless you’re the one cooking). For high school seniors caught up in completing college applications, however, deadlines, stress about the future, and upcoming midterms can put a damper on their holiday.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s examine how a family can support one of its own during this busy, frustrating, and worrisome time. In this article, we’ll look at things both parents and siblings can do to support their family member’s journey to college. If everyone chips in, your whole family should have a great Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Why All the Stress? 

NBC News reports that “30 percent of teens reported feeling sad or depressed because of stress and 31 percent felt overwhelmed. Another 36 percent said that stress makes them tired and 23 percent said they’ve skipped meals because of it.” Below are some of the top reasons why your family member is ‘feeling the squeeze’ this week.

  • The Early Decision Jitters: For starters, many students apply early decision to their dream college or university. Though these deadlines are usually November 1st, the ‘what ifs’ going through a teen’s mind can cause a lot of stress. Think about it: in a few days he or she may receive a life-changing email.
  • The Regular Decision Race to the Finish: In addition to early decision, there are the fast-approaching regular admission deadlines, which range from December 1st to January 1st. This means that December, just days away, is going to be a busy month as your family member puts the final touches on his or her college applications.
  • The Midterm Blues: Finally, December is full of another common stressor: midterms. Even though college admissions counselors do not see applicants’ senior year grades when making their decisions, some colleges have rescinded acceptance letters when an applicant slacked off academically or got into trouble during senior year.

How You Can Help

Whether you’re a parent or sibling, there are lots of little things you can do to help your family member succeed. Let’s consider a few easy options:

  • Hire a Tutor. Investing in a tutor is an investment in your child’s future. Even in their senior year, college-bound students still need help with difficult subjects, especially AP courses. Having a tutor work with your child for the few months leading up to final exams will make sure that he or she is well-prepared for college’s academic challenges.
    • If you’re an older sibling home from college during Thanksgiving week, offer to provide the same tutoring assistance for free.
  • Do Some Extra Chores. If you’re a sibling, help your brother or sister out by doing a few of their chores. Call it an early holiday gift! Even if you can pick up the slack just a little, you’ll allow your sibling more time to focus on the task of applying to college.
  • Be a Shoulder to Lean On. Stress causes many college-bound high school seniors to feel isolated. Talk with your child or sibling about their frustrations, worries, hopes, and dreams. Not only will you learn more about what they’re going through, but the conversation should help them realize that people they love have their back.
  • Get His or Her Mind off the Stress. Most students have the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off from school. Use this day to help your family member get his or her mind off everything on their plate (And I’m not talking about their Thanksgiving meal. ;). For example, have him or her help with Thanksgiving preparations. For some people, cooking is a great stress reliever. There will still be work to do later, but a mental break will help them reenergize for that final push in December.
  • Plan a Fun Event for When the Applications Are Complete. Successfully submitting college applications is a reason to celebrate. Let your child or sibling plan a fun activity to commemorate his or her achievement. Planning this activity in advance will help keep them focused and motivated throughout the coming weeks.

Final Thoughts

Even with family support, a high school senior must still complete the bulk of the work involved in applying to college. Over the next few weeks, that’s their full-time job. So if you have the chance, lend them a helping hand. I encourage you to go above and beyond the suggestions in this article. Every family is different, after all. I’m sure that whatever you try will have a positive impact.

“And finally,”…(takes a bite of a massive turkey leg)…”Apy Hanksgibing!”

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