The current situation which we are experiencing is having an impact on all of our lives and in many cases our wellbeing. This is particularly a difficult time for teenagers, due to changes in their usual schooling and social routines. They may be experiencing disappointment about missing important experiences such as sporting events, birthday parties, drama productions and much more. It can also be a tough time for parents, as it’s often hard to look after yourself while also supporting your family.
Here are some strategies that will help you and your teenagers to cope with school stress during this difficult time.
You can’t pour from an empty cup
It’s easy to forget about your own needs while you’re trying to support your teenager through the current situation. You will be more in control and better able t support those around you if you’re feeling well.
- Self-compassion. Go easy on yourself – you’re doing the best you can during an extremely difficult time.
- The basics. It’s important to pay attention to the foundations of wellbeing during this time: getting enough sleep, eating good nutritious food, moving your body regularly and having some time to yourself.
- Model healthy coping – Check in with yourself. Are you feeling frustrated? Calm? Angry? Okay? Sad? Happy? All of these things are normal, and it’s very common at a time like this to fluctuate among them. Being aware of your emotions and knowing if you are okay or if you need support or time out is crucial for personal wellbeing as well as managing relationships with others.
Encourage your teen to keep going
It’s important to have conversations with your teen about their academic and future goals, and to encourage them to keep working towards them. Putting off tasks now could just mean more pressure later on. While it may be healthy to lower expectations a little bit it’s important not to lose momentum with studies. Completing and submitting work is achievement and achievement helps with our mental wellbeing.
Encourage your teen to take healthy breaks
It’s important that we all take healthy breaks throughout the day, especially while working remotely. This means getting up and moving from our place work and engaging in physical movement. Doing 20 star jumps or 10 squats before moving away from the desk to get something to eat or drink can provide us with a significant boost to our physical and mental wellbeing over time. Not only that but physical movement improves our ability to think. Doing 10 squats will make you more productive as a student!
Procrastinate the right way
We all procrastinate. Now when we are working and studying remotely is not the time to procrastinate on the internet or on a device. But the reality is is that most of us, especially teens cannot separate ourselves from devices. Create a plan with your teen about when to use their device. Ideally the device is put away for the school day and potentially used as a reward for a specific time period once the days studies are completed.
Help your teenager to stay in control with some anti-stress techniques:
- Grounding, using all of the senses – for example, name five things you can see, four that you can hear, three that you can touch, two that you can smell, one that you can taste.
- Create a ‘self-care box’ with soothing or interesting objects such as stress balls, essential oils, herbal tea, fidget toys, etc.
- Introduce family ‘no COVID-19 talk time’ periods.
- Encourage your teen to do activities that they enjoy around the home, such as baking, reading books, watching a movie, exercising, listening to or playing music, colouring in, or taking up a new hobby.
Teenagers pick up on the concerns and worries of those around them, and they may have their own worries about the situation. It’s possible that your teen may experience extra stress, and be more moody or irritable, during this time. Keep the lines of communication open so that your teen feels they can reach out to you about any concerns they may have.
Maintain a routine
Maintaining a daily schedule is beneficial for physical and mental health, but without school and other external commitments, it’s easy to let schedules slip. We have created a routine planner template to help your teen stick to a routine here.
Get extra support If in doubt its always best to seek support. Lifeline (13 11 14) and Parentline can be accessed for phone and online counselling. If it is not an emergency your GP is a great option for a first port of call when seeking additional supports with mental health.
NB: The above article was adapted from reachout.com. The original article can be found at https://parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/things-to-try-exam-stress/helping-your-teen-with-study-stress-during-coronavirus