5 action steps to managing stress at the beginning of the school year
The start of a new school year is an exciting time filled with fresh opportunities, but it can also bring about stress and anxiety. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent, managing stress is essential to ensure a successful transition into the school year. How do we get our school year off on the right foot and with a stress-free start? The following are a few effective strategies to help you start the school year on the right foot and keep stress at bay.
- Organization is Key
One of the primary sources of stress at the beginning of the school year is disorganization. The flood of paper and information that begins to flow into your home is enough. Never mind that you now have to sift through all of it and determine what to trash and what to keep!
To combat this, create a comprehensive plan that includes important dates, assignments, and goals. Invest in a planner or use digital tools to keep track of schedules and deadlines. Organizing your physical space can also help. Clear clutter, set up a designated study area, and gather essential supplies to reduce chaos and improve productivity.
A few years back when the elementary years were in full throttle at our house, I had magnetic clips on the side of the fridge – one for each child. Anything that needed to be filled out, attended to, or kept, went on that clip. If there were papers of particular importance (like that grade they worked so hard to get!) they went into a file. Everything else went into the recycling bin.
- Set Realistic Goals
Ambition is admirable, but setting unrealistic goals can lead to stress and burnout. Instead, establish achievable objectives for the school year. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. This approach not only reduces stress but also allows you to celebrate achievements along the way, boosting motivation.
At the start of each school year, my husband asks each of our kids what is one goal they would like to achieve that year. He has them write it out and then list a few steps that they will need to achieve that goal. It’s then hung on the side of the fridge for encouragement and accountability.
- Practice Time Management
Effective time management is crucial for a stress-free start. Create a daily or weekly schedule that allocates time for studying, extracurricular activities, and relaxation. Prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines, and don’t forget to factor in downtime to recharge. Avoid procrastination by setting specific start times for your work and sticking to them.
We’ve found that successful school mornings start the day before. As soon as the kids get home from school, the first thing they do is clean out their lunch bags. And, as soon as supper is over, they pack their lunches for the next day. Just having the lunch part of the school morning already done has worked wonders for the morning routine.
- Stay Healthy
Physical well-being is closely linked to mental well-being. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activity. These habits will help boost your energy levels and improve your ability to manage stress. Don’t underestimate the power of a healthy lifestyle in reducing anxiety.
Though school sports have hampered this a bit, our family enjoys going on post-supper walks. Research has shown that walking after dinner improves digestion and mood. This is a wonderful time of day to unwind with the kids, discuss the day, and connect as a family.
5. Embrace a Growth Mindset
Adopting a growth mindset means viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and growth rather than as stressors. When faced with difficulties, remind yourself that setbacks are a part of the journey. Use them as motivation to improve and persevere.
The start of a new school year may bring its fair share of stress, but with proper planning and self-care, you can manage it effectively. Organization, realistic goal-setting, time management, a focus on health, seeking support, mindfulness practices, and cultivating a growth mindset are all valuable tools to help you navigate this transitional period. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help when needed, and prioritize your well-being as you embark on a successful and stress-free school year. By implementing these strategies, you can confidently tackle any challenges that come your way and make the most of the exciting opportunities that the new school year brings.