'Stress' is definitely a buzz-word in the adult world. Almost every adult can relate to feeling stressed; whether it's the stress of work, raising a family or other grown-up responsibilities. But while we're all so busy managing our own daily stresses, stress management for children and young people can often get overlooked. School, social life and growing up in general can all be sources of stress for a child or teenager. It's so important to be aware of the signs to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed. If left un-managed, stress can really impact their mental health.
As it's International Stress Awareness week, we're focusing on how stress affects younger people, and strategies they can use to manage it. We'll also share some of the My Online Schooling team's favourite things to do to combat stress. You might discover some new methods that you or your child might like to try!
What is stress?
Stress is our bodies' natural response to external pressures in our lives. Stress is a natural human feeling that we all feel from time to time. A little stress can make us more productive, driving us to get things done. On the flip-side, though, too much stress can take a real toll on both our physical and mental well-being.
- Loss of appetite
- Tension or pain in your neck and shoulders
- Stomach aches and nausea
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
How can I tell if my child or teenager is stressed?
Especially as children get older, stress is something they will almost definitely encounter at some point. Whether it's exams, peer pressure, bodily changes, sport commitments or family issues, being aware of your child or teenager's behaviour and looking out for signs of stress is the first step in helping them manage it.
Stress can present itself in lots of different ways. If your child is overly stressed, they may complain of stomach aches, refuse to go to school, lash out, throw tantrums or be generally irritable. They may also withdraw from other people completely and spend a lot of time alone. If stress becomes un-manageable, your child's mental health can suffer as a result. Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety disorders, sleep problems and even eating disorders.
Stress management for children and young people
Sadly, stress affects all of us, no matter what. But the good news is, there are effective ways you and your child can work on together to help cope with it, and stop it from becoming unmanageable. Some methods include:
- Talk to someone - sharing how you feel can make you feel better pretty much instantly. Bottling up your stress and anxieties will only feed it.
- Journaling - expressing how you feel, even in private, can ease the pressure. Writing things down can help you make sense of your feelings, and put things into perspective. Once you can see it in writing, it's easier to figure out ways to move forward, step by step.
- Stay active - physical exercise is a no-brainer. It's one of the best ways to de-stress, as it releases feel-good endorphins. Find an activity you really enjoy, rather than exercising for the sake of it.
- Have fun with friends and family - socialising is a great way to take your mind off of things. Spending too much time alone with your thoughts can just make things feel worse. Spending time with your friends and family is fun and reminds you of what's really important in your life.
- Take up a hobby - get stuck in to an activity you love. Maybe you love to paint, or perhaps you like playing football. Whatever it is, it's good to have something to remind yourself that you have a life outside of school!
- Be kind to yourself - accepting that you are feeling stressed is important. After all, it's completely normal. Rather than beating yourself up (which will just make matters worse), treat yourself as if you were your best friend. What steps would you advise them to take to manage things?
Support for your child at My Online Schooling
At My Online Schooling, the health and well-being of our pupils is our top priority. Our Inclusion team works closely with parents, pupils and teachers to support your child's mental, emotional and additional educational needs. Learn more about our school wellbeing support offering.