The Hidden Reality of Spring Stress (for Teens and Parents!)

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Most people are always relieved when Springtime weather finally arrives – especially students who believe they are that much closer to summer vacation. In my office, though, I often see how Springtime is an incredibly stressful time, especially for those students who really take off for Spring Break and never recover (hint: there is usually some work to do over Spring Break, so checking out altogether for the entire break period usually causes more stress than relaxation).

With upcoming finals, SAT/ACT exams, social engagements like prom and graduation, big decisions (college admissions deicisons are due May 1st  for high school seniors), students often don’t know how to process all the different happenings. Perhaps a close friend has decided to attend college far away, or  they are nervous for all the details surrounding prom. Or maybe the end of school year projects and tests are proving to be too much to juggle along with family relationships, extracurricular committments, and social media distractions.

Taking time to help students determine out good stress relief options  can be incredibly meaningful. Asking children and teens to brainstorm five to ten ways they can relax everyday – even for just 10-15 minutes – and encouraging them to make time to do so is a great start.

Remember: Every child is different (obviously!) so what could be stress-relieving for one child might cause stress to another. For example, one of my students loves to bake and can spend hours making a cake and decorating it with thoughtful creativity. Another student thought she liked baking, but realized that the clean up process was too stressful for her, and she found she preferred playing the piano for a half hour as a way to relax.

More than anything, students need sleep, which is why promoting ways they can maintain organization and time-management skills during the Spring can be so beneficial (and is one of the reasons I wrote That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week). Some of my students ideas for relaxing include:  listening to music, playing music, going  to lunch with friends, baking, drawing, journaling, taking a hot bath/hot shower, sleep, talking with a friend/parent/sibling, eating, and exercising.

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What are your children’s favorite ways of recharging and relaxing?

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