Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays
An excerpt from 10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays by Meaghan Dunham
While holidays can be a welcome break from assignments and school, this year’s holiday season will look different due to the pandemic. Many families won’t be able to travel or meet in large groups, holiday traditions will be altered, and students may not get to spend time with loved ones. The pandemic has also caused many hardships on families, including financial stress and food insecurity.
Unmanaged stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and can cause harmful physical effects. It can also increase students’ risk of dropping out, substance abuse, and suicide. However, educators can help students learn how to effectively manage and reduce stress..
As an educator, you are in a unique position to provide stability and support to your students and their families during the holidays and these uncertain times. One of the best ways you can help students is by looking after their social-emotional health.
Here are 10 ways to help your students learn effective stress management.
Help students understand what is happening
A simple and age-appropriate conversation about what is going on and why the holidays might look different this year can help alleviate students’ anxiety and stress. Ask students how they are feeling. Listen to them and validate their feelings by telling them it’s ok to feel sad, disappointed, or angry.
Promote a growth mindset
Research shows that a growth mindset can help students maintain a sense of control over their lives and address the cognitive causes of stress within the brain. Growth mindsets allow us to see the world through a lens of growth, which means we have the power to turn our thoughts from a negative focus induced by stress to a positive focus striving toward improvement. Help students develop a growth mindset by teaching them to focus on the positive and view challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than threats.
Encourage students to get enough sleep
Younger children need 10-12 hours of sleep each night and high school students need around eight to nine hours. Talk to students about why getting enough sleep is important for their physical and mental health.
Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing works just as well for students as it does for adults. It can have a powerful physical effect in reducing tension and relaxing the body — and it can have immediate results. Clinical research shows that regular deep breathing exercises affect the heart, brain, digestion, and the immune system.
Be a listening ear
Some students don’t have an adult at home who they feel they can turn to in times of need. Encourage students to talk to you about their feelings so you can work through any concerns they may have. Keep the communication going during remote learning through email, online chat, or virtual meeting spaces. If possible, continue your outreach during the holidays so students have someone to turn to if they need help.
Our students’ resiliency has certainly been tested this year. The holidays will bring a new set of challenges, but you can help your students work through these stressful times by teaching them effective stress management skills. We hope these de-stressing tips are helpful to keep you and your students happy and healthy this holiday season!
10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays
BY Meaghan Dunham
Dunham, Meaghan. “10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays.” Aperture Education, 18 Nov. 2020, apertureed.com/tips-to-manage-holiday-stress-students/.
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Teachers have so much power in the positive presence they bring into their students' lives. Although the little things may not seem like much, to a student with issues at home, or even the modern student struggling with the 2020 holidays, they can mean the world.