10 Tips to Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety in Students
August 18, 2016
School age students are experiencing stress and anxiety at an alarming rate. The trend over the past 10, 25, 50 years is increasing at a very significant rate.
Some statistics that are eye opening are:
-The typical high school student has the same level of anxiety as a psychiatric patient in the 1950’s.
-80% of those with a mental health related issue receive no treatment
-50% of American teens are showing symptoms of stress (headache, sleep disturbance and eating problems)
-13 years old is the typical age of the onset of a social anxiety disorder
-60% of illness and disease are stress related
-25 percent of 13- to 18-year olds will experience an anxiety disorder – an increase of twentyfold over the past 30 years
Is it any surprise that one of the best-selling songs of the summer has been “Stressed Out” by the band Twenty-One Pilots? An important lyric from this song is, “Wish we could turn back time to the good old days, when our momma sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.”
There are many theories as to the reasoning for these sharp increases. Some revolve around increased academic pressure to succeed and high stakes testing at younger ages. Others believe that students are over programmed and have very little rest or quiet time in their lives. An additional consideration is a decrease in the amount of sleep that children and teens are getting.
Regardless of the cause, there are several tips/strategies that can be used to help reduce the stress and anxiety.
1.) Keep an open line of communication – Stress and anxiety can increase very quickly. The increase can cause more severe symptoms or problems. An open line of communication can ensure that when symptoms arise, they are addressed early and reduced.
2.) Help them learn coping skills and healthy ways to lower stress – Coping skills need to be learned, practiced and applied. In doing so, the severity, duration and impact can be minimized.
3.) Relaxation techniques – Evidence exists that breathing and movement can reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. These are best learned and practiced when stress and anxiety is low.
4.) Eating healthy – Many doctors and studies have discovered clear links between diet and mental health. In the case of stress and anxiety, there are definitely foods too avoid – high sugar items, caffeine, etc. While many “super foods” have been shown to have stress and anxiety reducing properties.
5.) Encouraging more sleep – Sleep is your body’s way to re-set and re-charge. Most children and teens require at least 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can increase the negative impact of stress and anxiety.
6.) Focus on fewer activ
ities – It is important to avoid “over programming” kids and teens. It is important for them to have time each day that is free of school and activities. Taking time to review the weekly schedule, will help you to determine if your child is over programmed. A consideration is to determine which items are essential, which items are important, and which items can be done in an off-season or later.
7.) Exercise – Children who have too much “screen time” and/or are sitting too much have an increased chance to develop stress and anxiety. Movement and physical activity have a positive impact on stress levels in children and teens. This can be as simple as walking, riding a bike, or swimming.
8.) Music – Listening to music has been shown to reduce stress and help with relaxation. Of course, it is important to find music with the right amount of beats per minute, lyrics, etc.
9.) Laughter – As funny as this may sound, laughter is one of the natural ways the body uses to reduce stress. It also stimulates many organs and parts of the body. Others have shown a positive health benefit to just smiling often.
10.) Talk to someone – A positive option is finding someone to talk to about your stress and anxiety. This can be a teacher, counselor or mental health professional. Based on the severity, the mental health professional is likely to be a good choice. They can help you to process what is going on, teach specific relaxation strategies, and help you to plan for the present and future. Remember, the mental health professionals only goal is to help you to be better tomorrow than you are today.
Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates is a mental health therapy practice in St. Louis, Missouri. The practice provides therapy and counseling services for children, teens, adults, couples, and families. The practice has six licensed therapists that specialize in stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, and other mental health related issues and concerns.
Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates can be reached by phone at: 314-942-1147, by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the web: www.STLmentalhealth.com. Their office is located at: 655 Craig Road, Suite 300, St. Louis, MO 63141.