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High Achieving Students Prone to Unhealthy Stress

As we're entering a (hopefully temporary) era of mass online schooling in the U.S., it's good to be aware of your student's stress level, and teach them how to cope. 

Researchers have been researching student stress for a long time. I read this study in 2015 where researchers stepped into the world of highly selective private high schools in the Northeast. They probed into stress levels of students and examined what effect that stress is having on their lives.

Perhaps predictably, it’s not pretty.

Half the students reported feeling high amounts of stress on a daily basis. Twenty-six percent of students reported significant symptoms of depression — a common condition for those dealing with significant stress. 

Researchers noted high levels of stress can lead to poor academic achievement and risky behavior, like substance abuse.

A big source of stress for these students comes from parents, who are paying high tuition and expect measurable results–like admittance into top universities.

The study’s lead researcher expressed a hope that parents can start to modify how the both encourage and define success. A broader definition of success could play a big role in helping students achieve wellness, both physical and mental.

This is especially true during this age of remote learning during COVID. Let's dive into some examples of helping a stressed student!

1. Move around. I've written about this before: as little as 8 minutes of vigorous activity is the jumpstart your body needs to begin to produce endorphins. What's more, the research on physical activity being a natural stress-buster goes back for decades. So if your child is starting to complain about tension aches in their body (especially the stomach, back, neck or head), go set a timer for 10 minutes and get moving with them! 

2. Mindfulness. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago when we talked about kid loneliness during COVID. Meg Cowan, co-founder of Mindful Schools in Oakland, CA suggested a scripted mini-lesson to get kids deep-breathing and paying attention to their bodies. (You'll need a bell, or something to make a musical note sound.)  

3. Remember what matters. If you have a student who is stressing out about falling behind in school, remind them that the entire world is in the same boat. It's going to be okay! 

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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