Stress affects our minds and bodies, and as the pressure of end of the year assignments approaches, students can spiral down a pattern of unhealthy habits like self-criticism, loss of sleep, and poor diet.
Crunch time for exams, particularly for major ones like the SAT and ACT, are especially stressful for students. That’s why it’s critical for parents to play an active role in helping their children stay afloat.
We’ve rounded up a few ways that parents can easily support their children during their race to the finish line.
1. Promote Positive Thinking
How we frame our mindset is critical – mental stress can quickly affect physical health. Approaching something unknown and quite often scary, like the SAT, requires a dose of positive-proofing the mind.
While patience and consistent practice are key, remind your child that as long as they have prepared they have nothing to worry about. If they have done their best leading up to the exam, they’re on their way to success. And if they don’t do well, for whatever reason, there’s always another shot.
Parents should be sure to check that they’re approaching the situation positively as well. Students are much more likely to thrive in an environment where their greatest supporters consistently frame situations positively and will have an easier time staying optimistic and encouraged along the way as a result.
2. Talk It Out
Ask your child how they’re feeling. Upcoming projects and exams are just one facet of their lives. How are their friends? Their extracurriculars? What else is going on? They may not realize just how much outside factors are affecting their ability to concentrate on the road ahead.
Growing their support system can be helpful as well. Remind your child that seeking psychological help isn’t shameful, and support them if they feel they need to talk to an independent party.
Encourage your child to express their thoughts however they feel comfortable. Speaking out loud or writing down any concerns, fears, or feelings might just be the trick to help snap them out of feeling the crunch time blues.
3. Eat Well
Your child’s physical well-being is just as important as their mental health. A healthy, balanced diet is essential in managing stress. Encourage your child to up their nutrients and eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, and avoid binge eating during those fleeting free moments – it’ll only make them feel sluggish and unable to focus.
Ensure that there’s access to brain-friendly snacks during study time. Things like nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit have been proven to help increase memory and focus. A few pieces of dark chocolate never hurt anyone either.
If your teen has been converted to a coffee lover, make sure they don’t go overboard. Caffeine intake elevates the body’s cortisol levels – they might be awake, but they’ll also be more stressed.
4. Get Moving
Staying stagnant indoors all day is a surefire way for your child to lose focus and burn out throughout their studies. A 20-minute walk outside is a stress-buster, not to mention has been proven to increase cognitive function.
Exercise will also help your child beyond just clearing their head. Endorphin release from physical activity reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, and helps improve sleep – all of which are necessary for them to reach their full potential. Getting away from the crunch-time stress will help your child restore their balance of mind, purposefulness, and the energy needed to be successful.
5. Find the Right Environment
If your child works best in a quiet setting, ensure that the space for their study sessions provides the right amount of calm to maximize their comfort. If they benefit from a dynamic setting to settle their nerves, try a coffee shop, public library, or even a local university or community college if they offer study spaces.
Everyone wants to know what their friends’ pets are up to, but when it comes study time, make sure your child’s smartphone is out of sight.
You may not be a therapist or personal trainer, but you are your child’s biggest fan and greatest supporter. A little encouragement paired with a lot of hard work can go far, so consider how you can promote these healthy stress management techniques throughout the stressful times in your child’s life.
Disclaimer: I have teamed up with Clark in support of this campaign. We received compensation for participation in this campaign. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.