5 Science-backed ways to help students cope with stress
Homework, unannounced quizzes, managing new social patterns and exams… School can be tough for students. But it doesn’t end there, after school most students also want to meet up with their friends, pursue their hobbies or take part in sports competitions. This puts additional pressure on children, building up stress throughout the school year. As a school, we don’t want our students to feel overwhelmed or stressed: we want them to thrive in all aspects of their life. To accomplish this, we have put together five science-backed ways to help students manage their time and responsibilities.
1. Enough sleep
Staying up late, studying for tests or finishing up homework: this all takes a big toll on our physical and mental health. To ensure your child can learn during the day and memorize new information, it is crucial for them to sleep the right amount of time for their age. Health care professionals suggest children between the age of 3 to 5 years old sleep between 10 to 13 hours, whereas Primary Year students aged between 6 to 12 years old are recommended to sleep between 9 to 12 hours. The older the child gets, the less sleep is needed. Therefore, teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day. However, this is different for each individual and your child needs to work out their individual needs.
2. Healthy diet
This might be an obvious one but we often underestimate how impactful our diet can be. There is more awareness these days about the impact of food on our mood and our health. For example, processed foods and sugary drinks don’t just make us gain weight, but their consumption is also often linked to sleep problems and depression. To ensure your child stays focused throughout the day, it is essential to provide them with a healthy and balanced diet from early childhood, installing good habits through the teenage years.
Across the world, meditation is the most studied stress reduction technique for both adults and children. It is an easy technique which requires a few minutes of your day. Scientists recommend meditating in the morning to reduce stress levels before the start of the day. This could be a great stress relief technique to practice together with your child. Start with 2 or 3 minutes and increase the time continually. For inspiration, use meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm.
4. Spend time with animals
Research shows that spending time with an animal is good for our health. By petting an animal for a couple of minutes per day, our bodies release hormones that increase the feeling of happiness whilst decreasing stress levels. If you don’t have direct access to a pet, it might be beneficial to show your child a few short clips of animals which has a similar positive effect as actually petting an animal. Taking this time away from schoolwork to cuddle with a furry friend has a much bigger impact on your child’s educational process than you would expect. Our school recognizes the importance of interacting with animals in their daily school environment. That is why we are currently training our school therapy dog, who will be working with our students in the future.
5. Breathing exercise
“Take a deep breath!” is a phrase that we have probably all heard before. While it is simple, it is also the fastest and most effective way to destress in acute stress situations. When we take a deep breath in and out, we are signaling our brain that everything is going to be okay. This can significantly reduce our stress levels from one second to another. Various breathing techniques can help reduce stress. The major advantage of these exercises is that they can be done anywhere at any time. So, if your child is nervous on the way to school or right before an important test, take two to three minutes before saying goodbye to practice some breathing exercises together. This will immediately decrease your child’s stress levels and rebalance their hormone levels enabling them to think rationally. If you are interested in finding out more about breathing exercises, feel free to check out this link.
There are many more coping mechanisms for stress, nonetheless, we hope that this short list of possible techniques will be of use for your child and you when facing stressful times in school and social life. At Amity Amsterdam, we are listening to the needs of our students, and taking steps to support every student throughout their school career.