Minimize your back-to-school stress in Georgia
Starting the school year in August can be jarring after the relaxed vibe of summer. And the new routine can result in an uptick in stress for everyone — from students and parents to metro Atlanta commuters facing heavier traffic again.
Whether you’re a parent, a student, a teacher, or a caretaker, you can reduce tension triggered by back-to-school season with these simple tips.
Carve out more time.
Mornings set the tone for the entire day. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to wake up, get dressed, and enjoy a good breakfast without rushing. If you’re a parent, remember that little ones just learning their motor and emotional skills are going to need extra minutes to get ready.
Get enough sleep.
Make sure you — and any kids in your family — get plenty of shut-eye each night. Electronics have been shown to be disruptive to sleep, so put electronic devices away at least an hour before bed. If you need to readjust your sleep schedule, gradually shift back to an earlier bedtime a couple of weeks before school starts. If you’re taking care of children, consult the American Academy of Pediatrics childhood sleep guidelines for each age group.
Connect with family.
Parents don’t necessarily spend family time really connecting with their children. A recent poll of 2,000 parents shows that parents typically only talk to their children 44 minutes a day:
- Before school — 9 minutes
- After school — 14 minutes
- Dinnertime — 11 minutes
- Bedtime — 10 minutes
To stretch this time out — and make it more meaningful — consider arranging a daily family dinner. It’s still one of the easiest ways to connect on a regular basis, and has been found to protect against childhood obesity and depression.
Create coping strategies.
Healthy communication can not only help kids and grownups manage difficult feelings, it can also help you spot more serious signs of stress in the people you love. Keep an eye out for headaches, stomachaches, nightmares, irritability, crying, and negative self-talk.
If you see any of these in a child, parent, or friend, listen compassionately and ask if they need some extra help coping. It may also be a good idea to point them to Find Your Words, a website designed to help people support themselves and others living with depression.
If you see signs that a family member is struggling — especially if that person is a child — work with your family’s Kaiser Permanente care team to help them understand their mental health care options. This can be particularly important for students who are overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious about school.
Whether you or a family member is coping with anxiety or depression, or just dealing with the common stresses of back-to-school season, self-care is always important. Remember to give yourself small breaks throughout the day, get the rest you need, and never be afraid to connect with the ones you love. Together, you can create a strategy to reduce stress for a healthier, happier school year.
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