6 Strategies to Reduce Back-to-School Stress
Your salon’s back-to-school promotions with liter sizes and travel kits are probably in full swing. It’s rewarding to help high school and college kids change their look and plan for a year of exciting new experiences. But at home, your back-to-school anticipation may not be as exhilarating. In fact, this can be a highly stressful time for both parents and kids watching the carefree summer slip by only to be replaced by tight schedules, school supply lists and worries about the coming year’s academic demands.
“In the digital age, kids are getting less and less sleep because their minds are over stimulated by electronics,” says licensed hypnotherapist and yoga teacher Kellie Lupe-Smith, owner of Hypno Yoga LA in Los Angeles. “Lack of sleep can create a number of problems, mood swings, weight gain and brain fog. Kids are also suffering from overwhelming stress due to social anxiety, sports pressures and stress eating.”
Smith has some suggestions for both the kids and all of you working parents hoping to reduce your own stress as you cope with the new school year:
- Breathe deeply—and correctly. “When the human body encounters stress of any kind, our chest constricts, causing more shallow breathing to occur,” Smith says. “In this way we use only a small portion of our lung capacity and, typically, only the upper part of our torso, activating the sympathetic nervous system and creating a fight-or-flight response.” Smith advises learning deep-breathing techniques involving the lower part of the lungs and diaphragm. She says this activates the “parasympathetic” nervous system, creating a rest-and-digest response.
- Elevate the feet. The rest-and-digest response also can be stimulated by elevating your feet. Smith recommends the Viparita Karani yoga posture: lying on your back with your legs resting on a chair or against the wall.
- Hypnotherapy. Smith says that hypnosis can bring your mind into a state of concentrated awareness, permitting you to find problem resolutions within yourself and make positive, lasting changes.
- Remember you’re not alone. Just knowing that every other parent and student out there is experiencing something similar can alleviate feelings of isolation. Every community shares the common goal of having a smooth, successful school year for students, parents and teachers.
- Think about what you want. “It astounds me how many people, when asked what they want, can name only a list of what they don’t want,” Smith says. “The subconscious mind cannot process negatives directly; whenever you think, ‘I don’t want to stay awake all night’ or ‘I don’t want to eat too much candy,’ your brain hears only ‘stay awake all night’ and ‘eat candy.’ The subconscious mind needs direction and, when you can tell the mind exactly what you want, it knows what to do and can do it. In essence, what you think about you bring about.”
- Broaden your life perspective. “Imagine you can see into the future and know something good is coming,” Smith suggests. “Imagine that you already know that everything will work out in the end. Then think back to your life one year ago and recognize all that you have accomplished in that year. Do you even remember the things that worried you one year ago? Now imagine your life five years from now. How do you see your life differently looking back toward today? The detail of starting a school year seems smaller and more manageable when you know the big picture.”