If we’re being honest, it starts with the back-to-school ads that start appearing in mid-July. Sure, on the surface they’re innocently offering first dibs on budget-saving deals on pencils and rulers. But with those early ads comes the first sneaky bit of school-time stress, and for many people it just multiplies after that.Now come late August, all of a sudden your household is awash in a flurry of packing lunches, daily writing and signing of checks for school activities, realizing that your children have no socks/underwear/shirts/gym shorts/shoes that actually fit them, and “HOLY TOLEDO they have a class project due next WEEK? And it requires printed-out photos?!?”
Back-to-school stress is real, and it can take a serious toll on the health and happiness of you and your entire family. In a 2017 Care.com survey 55% of respondents said that they find this time of year stressful, and about a third feel anxiety about it, we wanted to offer a few ideas and solutions for back-to-school stress.
- Learn to identify the culprit. In kids and teenagers, stress can manifest itself in many ways; some expected, and some more surprising. Parents may notice surprising moments of fearfulness, moodiness, changes in sleep or appetite, withdrawal from people and activities, or behavioral changes at home or away from home. Keep an ear out for statements of, “I’m confused,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m annoyed,” or “Nothing is fun.” When a kid is vehement about not wanting to go to school, there could be a stressful element to blame, and it’s worth a little prodding to figure it out.
In adults, your own stress can take the form of gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, irritability, tense muscles, aches and pains, or even frequent illness.
- Keep it balanced and scheduled. Every family member needs a nightly healthy balance of homework or chore time, downtime, and quality family time, all while getting enough sleep. Work as a group to map out a general idea of how evenings should look. For example: homework and chores first, then downtime for a TV show or reading if time allows, then a family dinner, followed by a family game of HORSE or cards, or a walk in the park. Things like spending time together don’t always automatically happen, so be purposeful about scheduling it in.
- Practice family wellness. Discuss ways that, as a household, you can get enough sleep, drink enough water, exercise, allow time for prayer or meditation, and/or care for your muscles and joints. People of all ages, from infants to the elderly, can benefit from daily wellness routines.
An important piece of wellness includes getting regular massages, as this practice can effectively tackle a multitude of stress symptoms. If you or your family members struggle with poor sleep patterns, sore muscles, achy joints and ligaments, poor immune system, stress or anxiety, then perhaps massage could be a positive and helpful addition to your monthly routine. We welcome minors as members, and ask that those under 18 either be accompanied by an adult during the massage, or have written consent from a guardian.
Be sure to keep up with your own massage routine. Keeping up with regular massages can help you to effectively tackle the daily physical, mental, and emotional stressors you encounter, and can keep you operating at your very best.
Because, after all, the Science Fair is just around the corner.