Whether you’re nervous about kicking off a new semester or feeling uneasy about sending the kids back to school, try these tips to put your worries to bed.
6 Ways Parents, Teachers and College Students Can Ease Their Back-to-School Stress
While heading back to school can be stressful for kids, this time we’re going to focus on the stress faced by teachers, coaches, college students, and parents.
Whether you’re nervous about your grade schooler’s new carpooling system, stressed about your high-schooler’s grades, or simply unsure how to get back into your autumn routine, don’t let stress get the best of you! Try these simple tips to help set the stage for a calmer and happier school year.
BACK TO SCHOOL STRESS MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR PARENTS
As summer cruises to an end, many parents find themselves losing sleep over the upcoming school year. From the expense of buying all-new supplies and outfits to the logistics of scheduling time for homework, extracurriculars, and sports, it’s natural that many feel overwhelmed!
However, you don't have to repeat the vicious “summer, stress, and school” cycle every year! Instead, try kicking off the new year on a high note with these parent-approved stress management tips.
1. Ease into the back-to-school routine (before summer ends).
Getting everyone to and from school or work requires careful planning and timing — even a five-minute snooze in the morning can throw off your whole family’s day! Rather than waiting till the first day of class to get the kids back in the habit of waking up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast, try easing into it over the last weeks of summer.
Encourage earlier bed and wake-up times in gradual 15-30 minute increments, along with structured routines for each time of day. As you think through what to include in these routines, consider which tasks need to be completed before bedtime and before school — e.g., dinner/breakfast, shower, brushing teeth, changing clothes, etc.
By getting back into your family’s school routine early, you’ll be able to nip any problems in the bud and ease the shock of a sudden 6 AM wake-up call after three months of sleeping in!
2. Don't overcommit!
For many parents, back-to-school can be as stressful as it is exciting. Having the kids get back to practices, rehearsals, and other extracurriculars is a blessing for some. For others, the stress of getting them to - and paying for - all of these activities is overwhelming.
When planning the fall schedule for the kids and yourself, it’s always best to start with less. As you find your rhythm, it’s a lot easier to add more activities than to walk away from specific commitments.
BACK TO SCHOOL STRESS MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR YOUNG ADULTS
According to an assessment by the American College Health Association, over 63% of college students feel serious nervousness during the school year. If you’re one of them, and you’re currently “pre-stressing” over the uncertainties of the upcoming semester, consider the following stress-management tips.
1. Make a plan.
Just like parents of school-aged kids can benefit from easing back into their school routines, young adults can boost their chances of a better semester with some careful planning. Examine your expected obligations, including work, school (classes + studying), and social/extracurricular events. Then make a reasonably granular list, including what each commitment involves, how frequently you’d like to do it, and how long it takes to accomplish.
Once you have your list, organize the tasks by importance! If it seems overwhelming on paper, it probably will be even more so in reality, because unexpected commitments always come up. Once you’ve pared it down, make a tentative calendar for the first two weeks of school. Revise your calendar every two weeks, making adjustments for last-minute events, challenging exams, or even vacations!
2. Pencil in some me-time.
Is your tentative back-to-college schedule all work and no play? Not making time for your recreational activities of choice can make it harder to cope with stress. From intramural soccer with your lab buddies to weekly date nights with your significant other, make sure you’re not so focused on improving yourself academically that you forget to take care of your social, spiritual, and physical wellbeing.
Having an outlet, such as physical activity or art, and investing time in your support system are among the top natural ways to deal with stress!
BACK TO SCHOOL STRESS MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR TEACHERS AND STAFF
Stress is the most common reason for teachers to leave their jobs before retirement, according to RAND. It's cited almost twice as often as low pay. If you’re a teacher, coach, or school staff member, you may be familiar with the high-stress levels that those who’ve left the profession early have experienced.
However, many educators find purpose and passion in the impact that teaching makes, and many more can’t afford to walk away from their jobs and corresponding pensions. So, what can you do? Although it may feel like you can’t change the system that enables such high-stress levels, you can practice new techniques to help you better cope with them. Give these A+ worry management techniques a try to help you become your best self in and out of the classroom.
1. Set boundaries.
Teaching is a challenging profession, and demanding parents and administrators certainly don’t make it any easier! However, don’t let unrealistic expectations and demands weigh you down. The truth is, no matter which grade or subject you teach, there will always be “more work” for you to do. Rather than trying to do everything, be vocal about what you can do and be careful not to overcommit yourself.
Let parents, coworkers, and students know what your office/email hours look like, and set the expectation that you will attend to their concerns during those times rather than being at their beck and call. Designate work-free zones and times for yourself, creating space to relax, unwind, and spend time doing what you enjoy with the people you love.
2. Plan meals.
Working early mornings and dealing with long commutes can easily lead to poor dietary choices, which can affect your physical and mental health! Make healthy options more convenient by planning and prepping healthy-ish meals before the school week.
You don’t have to go full keto or low-cal; considering how harmful processed and packaged foods can be, simply choosing clean ingredients such as colorful produce, whole grains, and lean proteins can be an upgrade in itself! Plus, not only will meal planning help you get physically healthier, but it could likely also help you save time and money!
STRESS MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS FOR EVERYONE
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