It's that time of year again! Back to school stress and anxiety affect both adults and children and can interrupt our daily wellbeing. Schedules, homework, after school activities, carpooling, tutoring, family time- all the things- can create a sense of chaos and overwhelm.
Here are a few tips to keep you, and your kiddos in a balanced and healthy state of being.
How can we make the transition back to school a little smoother?
Any shift and transition, big or small comes with an opportunity to create new routines, boundaries and habits - a new school year is no exception! Look at how your family can thrive in this next year and support each other in creating the best environment for growth.
Stick to a routine - Having a regular routine during your week can provide stability and structure in the midst of the unknown, or chaos that may occur in other areas.
Schedule time for relaxation and screen-free time just like you would for homework.
Create special family events during the week- like pizza night, game night, or movie night. It may seem like everyone is going their own direction, family events can bring everyone back to center.
Encourage healthy habits like good nutrition, proper hydration, adequate sleep etc which can help support the bodies internal stress response and help everyone feel and perform at their best.
How can we ease the stress and anxiety felt by children?
Stress and anxiety with shifting back into the school year can come from many different places and can depend on the individual child. Some kids are social butterflies but struggle with deadlines and homework. Others may be more studious but have more social anxiety or have a harder time opening up to new friends and teachers. Others just struggle with routine and having to sit still for any length of time. And unfortunately, with increased social pressure comes risk for bullying or mean behavior, even from friends and those close to our kids.
As parents it is usually easy to notice when something isn't quite right, but not always as easy to help our children process and move through these struggles efficiently. Here are a few tips to foster open communication and help Integrate those stressful days:
Make a habit of asking meaningful questions, even when things are going well - going deeper than just "how was your day?" and into questions that help your child process and reflect on their day such as "What went well for you today" or "What emotion did you feel most frequently today"?
Don't dismiss feelings or brush them off- acknowledge and validate. Remember that learning to acknowledge and process stress and a variety of emotional states is just as important (if not more so) as what grade they get on a test.
Discuss relaxation strategies like deep breathing, counting backwards from 10, or doing a body scan, depending on the age of your child. This can help bring the mind and body back together- back to the present moment- and create a sense of control.
If your child had a really tough day it might be a good idea to step outside and take a walk and get a break from it all for a little while. Movement and being outside is so helpful for regulating our brains and emotional states. You may even find that it is beneficial to create a routine of going on a family walk each evening or several times throughout the week.
As an adult and a parent, we will have moments of anxiety and our own feelings and struggles, too. It's important to remember that kids look up to adults to see how they should behave or react. Being able to model these mature emotional responses is truly how kids learn to respond and adapt to the world themselves. Even if we don't always get it right and we respond to a stressor differently than we would have liked, it can be powerful to admit this to our kids as well and show them how to come back towards balance.
Keep an eye out for my next blog post where I go more in depth into the body's stress response and how my work as a chiropractor can help keep your body systems working in balance and harmony.
Dr. Rachel Wurdemann is a vitalistic chiropractor and owner of Sanctuary Blue: A Center for Optimal Living. She specializes in a gentle holistic approach to neural integration and whole-body wellness. She has a background in health and life coaching and received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University in Atlanta, Ga. She lives on Daniel Island with her husband Josh and their 3-year old son, Maverick. In her spare time, you can find her at the beach, climbing, in the gym, reading a good book, playing board games, and enjoying nourishing food.
~ Life is too short to not feel good and spread joy ~