Student stress and anxiety are being called the mental health “tsunami” of our generation and unfortunately, our kids are being hit the hardest. So much so that 70% of teens have said that anxiety and depression are a major problem among their peers.
There’s a lot of pressure put on our students from various sources and they’re starting to feel it! Over time, these high levels of chronic stress start to have an effect on health, happiness, and academic performance.
In this blog, we are going to take a look at the main causes of student stress and provide several stress-management techniques to help you or your student cope.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s subconscious reaction to any threat or challenge. In many cases, stress is what saves us from danger or prepares us for a tough situation. But in today’s world, the body perceives non-threatening situations as threats. For example, the stress of picking out the “perfect” outfit for school.
Regardless of the stressor – threatening or not, your body will respond in the same way. It releases a series of hormones that lead to slower digestion, a racing heart, flushed skin, and accelerated vision. These physical symptoms often lead to panic attacks or increased anxiety.
Remember that the body is preparing to fight or flight. It doesn’t know that you’re just picking out clothes and are worrying about looking good. For all it knows you’re being chased by a lion.
Top 4 Causes of Student Stress and What to Do About Them
Sources of stress are coming from every angle whether it’s personally or academically. Here are the main stressors and what you can do about them as a parent or a student.
Test or Academic Anxiety
All throughout school students are indirectly taught that their grades are a determining factor of their potential or worth.
As parents, it is our job to relieve this pressure and help them understand that good grades do not define their level of intelligence. One bad grade does not make you less worthy, less intelligent, or ruin your entire future.
As students, it is your job to do everything you can to prevent testing or academic anxiety. Spend as much time preparing as you can, use your teachers for help, learn how you study best, and avoid procrastination. Even when you don’t get the grade you want, it’s important not to let it define you. Use it as a lesson to learn how to do better in the future.
Students are lead to believe that each step of their life has to be methodically planned out. But many don’t actually know what they want to do with their life once school is over. The worry of getting into college or getting a job that can support yourself after graduation is real. You might also have student loans to worry about or the fear that you won’t like your job.
To combat this, try your best to – or help your student – plan ahead. Shadow jobs or colleges you think you might like, create a budget to establish your minimum income requirement, save money throughout school, and ask lots of questions. Through it all, remember that nothing in life is concrete. If you get in a situation you don’t like, with a little hard work you can change it.
Pressure to Fit-in
The pressure to fit-in has always been there, but social media is heightening it. Not only does it allow peers to post edited photos of their lives, but it also makes it easier to bully.
As a parent, you can enforce phone usage hours that allow kids to use phones until a certain hour and only spend so long on social media. The FamilyTime app allows you to lock certain apps, set bedtimes, enable “homework time,” and set time limits.
For students, you can do all of the above for yourself. You can also form genuine connections outside of your phone, see a therapist to talk through negative feelings, create fun hobbies, and work on being confident in yourself just as you are.
Between homework, studying, activities, and phones there is hardly any time left to sleep. Research shows that when you don’t sleep, you have worse memory, increased feelings of anxiety, and decreased focus – all of which make it hard to perform well academically. Lack of performance only increases stress which further affects sleep. It’s one, big, nasty cycle.
Some ways to get better sleep include: setting a bedtime, winding down before bed, turning off all screens, avoiding naps, deep breathing, and adding in exercise.
What role do smartphones have in student stress and anxiety?
It’s the question on everyone’s mind: how much of student stress and anxiety can be traced back to smartphones? Well, most of it. The insanely high amounts of stress and anxiety in students can be traced back to two things – smartphones and societal pressure.
A Drug-Free Way to Handle Stress and Anxiety
Great ways to help with student stress include being prepared, making time for fun, limiting phone use, getting good sleep, and seeing a counselor. But sometimes these actions alone aren’t enough. When that’s the case, you might be wondering if there are other drug-free ways to help manage stress and anxiety. There is!
At Brain Forest Centers, we use what’s called neurofeedback to help rewire your brain back to a balanced, neutral position. Our treatments are pain-free, non-invasive, and have been proven time and time again to work.