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Teenagers and stress

Photo by Giftpundits

Stress!

As adults, we know what it means. We feel it every day with deadlines at work or home issues that need resolving or it might be an internal battle we are facing. Kids also deal with stress. It might be due to exams or something that is going on at home which they cannot make out or some issue in their friend circle. To us as grownups, we feel that what kids face is insignificant, it doesn’t carry any water or have a “wait until you are an adult” view about their problems. In the end, we all stress in different ways and at different times and it eats us up if it gets too much and we don’t know how to handle it.

I recently read a very interesting article about how young kids express themselves when they feel stressed. It is 100% possible for them to feel stress. We can give it to them through our energy we give off when we stress. They just cannot make out what exactly it is they are feeling and express it in different ways. My daughter came home complaining of stomach ache. I monitored it and wrote it off as growing pains, because that is what I read somewhere. It turned out she was stressing about this one friend at the new school and felt her stomach turning, which she made out as a tummy ache. With older kids, it is at least easier by asking questions which are easier to answer and that gives us an indication of what it is. Like my son, who is a little older, complained that it feels like he cannot keep his head up and his neck pains. Poking a bit with questions about school work and feeling the muscles we soon realise that it is what we get, tense muscles when we work hard and long at our desks.

Exam stress is heavy! We all remember how intense it is and the higher you move up in grades, the worse it got! They cannot escape the stress, but there are a couple of things they can do to lessen the load. Here are a few suggestions to try –

1. PLAN AHEAD
This is nr1 for a reason! It is the most important one in MHO. They know exactly when the exams take place, so they can plan out a study roster before the term begins. “How do you eat an elephant?” my friend asked me one day when I had a major task to complete and felt swamped. The answer “bite by bite”! Make exam notes of the work when you get it. Frequently read over the work so that you get familiar with it. A great tip I like to give is to make recordings of the work on your phone and then listen to them often.

2. KNOW YOUR OWN STUDY STYLE
Not everyone studies the same. Some can do better with diagrams, others bullet point notes, verbal notes or even flash cards have proven to be very successful. I know it sounds very childish but give it a try you might be surprised. The point is, find your style and work with it!

3. KEEP IT CLEAN
This is for your study desk and your notebook (I hope kids still have those?). Subconsciously it helps a lot to not feel cluttered. Don’t clean to procrastinate on learning. Take a day off, well in advance and clean up the mess around your study area. During the terms and school year, keep your notebook neat and tidy. It’s very effective, trust me! It’s a great habit to have for when you work one day.

4. HAVE A GREAT STUDY PLACE
Be mindful where you study. Your brain cannot do 2 things at the same time. It bounces between the tasks, so if you have a noisy area, it cannot focus completely on only learning what it should. Make your study area quiet, do it at the same place every time so that when you sit down, your brain knows exactly what task is up and do it consistently. Sit at a window to allow natural light to flow in and make sure you are in a well-ventilated area A great tip is to have brain stimulating music (easily found on YouTube) softly playing in the background. Biggest tip – SWITCH OFF YOUR PHONE! Everything on it can wait!

5. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Take regular breaks. If you know that you can focus strongly for a certain time and after that your mind starts to wander, take a break. Fill the break with meaningful activities like walking outside to get better oxygen. It also removes you for a complete break from what you are doing and the walk is great to get your circulation up for all the necessary oxygen to reach the brain. Do not go on your phone, it is a bad distraction that will often get you to stop studying. If you really must, force yourself to give your phone to mom on your study days. Study in the mornings, wake up a little earlier, after a good night’s sleep.

6. POSTURE
Another important one. Sit up straight and make sure your table and chair are in the right proportion. It will ensure great posture, which will allow you to breathe well and get all the necessary oxygen to your brain. Keeping your back straight is good for memory, so it is essential to exercise core muscle to ensure good posture.

7. SELFCARE
Taking the good quality vitamins during study time, meditating frequently, having a trusted friend/person to lean on, eating quality food (cutting out sugar, fast food and caffeine), drink plenty of water and affirming to yourself that you are more than capable to do well are valuable selfcare practices to help enhance your study time.

Be consistent
Study hard
Trust yourself

Good luck, soldier on!