8 Tips for Dealing with Back-to-School Stress

The start of a new school year can bring on many emotions for students and parents, including excitement, anticipation, anxiety and fear. Change is difficult for all of us, yet there are ways to make the transition smoother. Here are eight tips to help ease you back into the school year.

1. Create consistent routines: Children and adults thrive with consistency. Before the school year begins, create a morning and an evening routine, then do your best to stick to it.

2. Set rules around screen time for both you and your child: While we may use technology for phone contact or homework, it is critical to prioritize in-person relationships. Create good boundaries around screen time, including having screen-free meals or no screens in the bedroom. Remember that you are modeling the healthy use of technology for your child… so put down your phone when they are talking to you!

3. Let go of judgment and get curious: The human mind often reacts negatively to new experiences that take us out of our comfort zones. Can you let go of your judgment and be curious and open-minded instead? You may find things better than you originally thought. Teach your child to do the same. A simple mindset shift can make a big difference.

4. Express gratitude: Take a few minutes each day to make a gratitude list with your child. Recognizing positive moments and blessings with family, friends and teachers will help you focus on the good things happening and less about back-to-school worries. Sharing your gratitude with others helps bring relationships even closer. Everyone likes positive feedback!

5. Plan out your week in advance: Each weekend, take the time to write down what you have going on for the upcoming week— deadlines, appointments, tests, and work due. Practice doing the things you like least first so you don’t waste energy thinking about having to do them. Teach your child to do the same.

6. Prioritize sleep and healthy eating: One of the healthiest habits you can create is getting enough sleep and eating right. Children and teens even need more sleep than adults. For clearer minds, make sleep a top priority in your home. The food you eat also directly affects how well you think, sleep, and your overall well-being. Limiting sugar, eating less processed foods, drinking more water, and starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast will give your body the right fuel to thrive.

7. Get outside regularly: Sunshine is nature’s way of giving your body serotonin, the hormone released by your brain to naturally boost your mood and help your mind stay calm and focused. An outdoor walk or sitting in the sun for 15 minutes to relax from the day will give your body and mind the boost it needs to help get you over any slump you might be experiencing from back-to-school stress.

8. Practice stress reduction techniques, such as taking 3-6 long, slow deep breaths anytime you are noticing tension in your body. Paying attention to the sites on the drive to school—the sky, cars, trees, buildings– keeps the mind focused in the now and away from stressful thoughts. Regular exercise can also reduce stress…even a short walk.

The tension that comes with returning to school will subside as you intentionally set your day and week up for success. Remember, you are not alone. Everyone is slightly more tense with change. Utilize friends, family, teachers, and the people around you to share your concerns and encourage new habits! Reach out to Mindful Being for more ways to connect with someone who can help.