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Tips to Help Cope with School Stress During the Holidays

Dec 15, 2020

The holidays are typically a time of heightened activity and emotion. For students in particular, this can be both an exciting and stressful time. Especially during a year as unique as 2020, it's important that we help our students learn to cope with school stress and manage their emotions well during this season. 

In many cases, we can't eliminate the sources of stress for our children. Instead, we can help them manage how they deal with the pressure. 

Tip 1: Allow them to acknowledge the struggle.

Naming your problem is the first step toward solving it. Additionally, by allowing our kids to talk openly about the pressures they're experiencing, we're teaching them that it's okay to admit you're struggling and ask for help. 

Tip 2: Promote mindfulness.

Mindfulness techniques allow us to slow down, process our environments and our thoughts, and manage our emotions.

Research shows mindfulness skills benefit kids' brains and improves their behavior. Their attention spans improve, they enjoy better mental health, and they become more resilient to stress. (Very Well)

Mindfulness techniques that have proven effective in children include:

  • Drawing
  • Journaling
  • Counting breaths
  • Savoring tastes and smells
  • Consciously relaxing muscles

These techniques can help children calm themselves when school stress threatens to overwhelm them.

Tip 3: Encourage sleep, hydration, nutrition, and exercise.

When our bodies aren't in good shape, everything in our lives becomes that much more difficult to deal with. When children are well-rested, hydrated, filled, and energized, they're much more capable of handling stressful and busy seasons like the holidays.

To the extent that you're able, help and encourage students to go to sleep on time, drink water routinely, eat regular meals, and move their bodies for at least thirty minutes a day. 

Tip 4: When you can, hold to routines.

Students thrive in routines, in part because they bring a sense of safety and normalcy amid the turbulent challenges and ongoing changes of childhood:

A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives. 

During the holidays, however, routines are upended.

  • Exam schedules
  • Seasonal "extras"
  • Special activities and events
  • Travel and/or increased family demands

Though they are temporary, all of these changes can leave students feeling insecure and unstable. When possible, keep to as many routines as you can, knowing that they can help students feel secure in their structure throughout the holidays. 

Tip 5: Let some things go.

Students aren't the only ones who can feel stretched thin during the holidays. Parents, teachers, and staff members can also become overwhelmed by changes, activities, events, and expectations. Always remember that no one can "do it all," and those who try often wind up paying the price. 

While we did highlight the importance of keeping to routines as much as possible during the holidays, that's not to say you must maintain the same rigid schedule you normally keep while still adding all the holiday expectations on top. By letting go of the little things and focusing on the ones that really matter, you can build a pressure-release valve into your holiday routine. 

What does this principle look like practically?

  • Prioritize your tasks according to value and urgency.
  • Do as much as you can during a reasonable work day.
  • Leave the lesser-value tasks unfinished at the end of the day. 

No one can do it all. This is particularly true during the holidays. In order to help our students manage their stress levels during times like these, we're going to have to lead by example. 

Futures Can Help

Here at Futures Academy, we embrace the power of one-to-one engagement and small-group instruction to best meet the needs of individual learners. For more information on our programs, please contact us.