by Mallory Aldrich, Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship Admissions Coordinator
May… the dreaded month for parents, teachers and students alike. Days and nights are filled with end- of-the-year recitals, projects, AP testing, finals, celebrations and white sheet cake. It can be overwhelming for everyone, but especially students.
Being a high school teacher for nine years, I saw this first-hand. As we inched closer to the last day of school, students became more stressed and overwhelmed. Sometimes, it felt as if that last day of school would never come. The stress accumulated this month of May has the potential to turn into a major problem. If stress isn’t dealt with it can lead to mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
Though stress in unavoidable, here are some healthy ways to cope with the pressure.
- Ask for help. This is the hardest and best lesson we can learn: don’t think you need to figure everything out on your own. When I was in the classroom, I saw how my students struggled with this. But I worked with them to show the benefits of asking for help. For students this may come in the form of emailing a teacher, forming a study group or asking a friend or parent for help. This seems scary, but I always said to my students, “You aren’t admitting failure by asking for help. You’re saying, ‘At this time I am not as strong in this area as I would like to be.’”
- Eat a well-balanced diet and drink water. In a time of year filled with late night studying and rushing from event to event, this may be challenging. But it is one of the most important things we can do. Eating a well-balanced meal keeps your body fueled longer, stabilizes your mood and reduces blood pressure. I have found that planning out healthy meals in advance not only keeps me organized for the week, it also guarantees I will eat healthy and resist temptations to just pick up to go food. We hear the advice to drink water all the time, but when we get busy we often forget. Staying hydrated keeps our muscles energized and keeps us from getting fatigued. Keep a water bottle with you at all times. Fill it up when you find a water fountain. Your body will thank you!
- Exercise. Your schedule is jam-packed and you have a million things to do, so how on earth are you going to find time to exercise? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a multi-hour gym session to get the benefits. The US Department of Health and Human Services outlines recommended activity amounts for children and adults. I find scheduling your workout into your day and finding a friend or family member to go with you helps keep you on track. So find an activity you love, put it in your calendar and start moving!
- Take a break. This is easier said than done. But so important. Taking a break doesn’t mean giving up on the idea of completing everything that needs to be done, but rather taking a small break to clear your mind to get back into the grind. Take a break, rest your mind, and go outside.
Even taking one of these steps can have great benefits for getting through times of stress.
May is National Mental Health Awareness month. With the number of students experiencing a mental illness on the rise, it is our duty to help our students, children and friends get the help they need and to end the stigma that goes with it. The National Alliance of Mental Illness is a great resource for parents, teachers, and students to use.
How do you deal with stress? Share your tips in the comments below!
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