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Five Tips to Reduce Back to School Stress

School supplies; new teachers, new clothes; new haircut; new braces; new friends; new class room; new schedule; sometimes even new school!  Roll all these things together and you have the perfect storm for back to school stress for your child.  But there are ways you can help ease the stressful feeling this transition causes.

To shift from a stressed-out mindset to a more positive one, adopt these five science-backed tools that will help you start the school year stress-free and full of excitement.

Tool Number One: Reminisce on Last Year’s Memories

If you think back on past transitions to school, you’ll recall that they were stressful, too. But they passed and likely made way to great new experiences. Spend some time talking about how much fun school was in the past.  The fun experiences, the things they were able to master and learn, the fascination of exploring  a new subject.  Studies have found people who reminisce on good experiences, perhaps while looking at photo albums or smartphone videos from san antonio video production services , relive the good moments and benefit from the re occurrence of positive emotions.

Take a few moments with your child to look at fun photos from last year, either alone or with friends. Spend some time looking at each picture, and recall what it felt like to be in those situations. Try to remember every fine detail: What did you wear? What was the weather like? What did you do for the remainder of the day? Reflecting on these happy moments will help relieve anxiety in the present.

Tool Number Two:  Help them to anticipate the good!

Talk with your child about all the fun experiences they are going to have this year in school: Playground time, art projects, time with friends, field trips, learning new things.  Be positive. Your enthusiasm about what this new year is going to bring can make all the difference.  Ask them every day…so what wonderful thing did you get to learn/do today !

Tool Number Three: Organize

Going back to school can involve needing to keep track of an overwhelming amount of physical items, including papers, forms, books, and school supplies. If they’re not organized into individual bags or compartments, these items form clutter — which is a major determinant of stress. many people experience.

“Organize every needful thing” is now just good advice.. but GREAT advice.

Start with your lunch packing station.  Gather all the supplies into one area.  So that you do not have to go to ten different cabinets for what is needed to put lunches together.  Create a weekly calendar of lunches so you do not have to think every day “what should I pack for lunch” Create 5 different lunch menus and rotate.  If the lunch schedule gets boring, then redesign it in December for the second semester.  Spend some time doing lunch prep on Sunday afternoon for the week!  Portion cups are your best friend and disposable ones are inexpensive enough to throw away at the end of the day.  Portion out the ranch for the carrots… the chips or the carrots into baggies.. the cookies. Do as much prep work as possible and then put them into containers for easy grab and go packing!

Create a place for the backpacks and lunch boxes when the children come home from school so they are not looking for them every morning at the last minute.

Create a family calendar where you can record all the weekly activities.  Weekly family planning meetings are a great idea so you can see the possible conflicts ahead of time and make adjustments.

Create a place for homework with needed supplies… ie extra paper, pens, crayons etc.

Create a school day schedule for meals, homework, baths, bedtime etc.  The school day pattern helps your child feel in control and gives them a sense of security.

Tool Number Four: Breathe

Most of us unconsciously hold our breath when we are preoccupied, busy, or stressed. A 2007 study found that 80 percent of people tend to hold their breath, without realizing it, while engaged in daily email correspondence. A similar phenomenon can occur when we’re busy in the midst of errands, work, or preparations. Failing to breathe deeply means our brains may not be getting the oxygen they need, and also robs us of the stress-relieving capabilities of breath.

It’s important to stop once in a while and literally take a breather. Practicing conscious breathing can help your brain better manage stress and emotions. Conscious breathing exercises can be performed anytime, anywhere, and will counter disruptive breathing patterns such as holding the breath.  Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4… hold or a count of 7… exhale slowly through your nose to a count of 8.  Teach this to your children and practice it with them so they are prepared for those last few moments before a test… or a school presentation!

Tool Number Five:  Get a concrete vision of the future

The mind deals with concerns about the future by trying to simulate impending events. We envision the future so we can mentally practice the proper behavior or response to hypothetical scenarios, and feel more prepared as a result. But if you don’t have a clear picture of your future environment, it’s hard to simulate the things to come: What will your classes look like? Where will you sit? Who will be sitting next to you? What will the teacher be like? Left unchecked, these ruminations can lead to stress and anxiety. So a quick visit to the classroom, a check of the closest bathrooms and water fountains, a walk to the playground or gym and where you will meet them for pick up after school would be helpful for younger children.  For the Jr and high school kids.. a schedule walk through, some practice with a combination lock, finding the cafeteria, gym, band, choir or theater rooms would all be helpful in calming their first week stress.

The more details you have at your disposal, the better the mental image you create, the more you’re able to prepare for the reality of your situation (as opposed to hypothetical disasters), and the lower your levels of stress.

Get ready for the year.  To quote Mary Poppins… “Well begun is half done!” Help your children have a great start to the new year!

Insight Child and Family Counseling                

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