Issue 2 - Managing Stress and Anxiety
Understanding Stress and Anxiety
Stress is a normal reaction that occurs when someone experiences any type of challenge or demand. Stress affects everyone and can be either positive or negative. Common symptoms to negative stress include irritability, anger, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and digestive issues. These symptoms tend to dissipate once the challenge, or stressor, goes away.
Anxiety consists of persistent, excessive worrying that does not go away, even in the absence of the stressor or challenge (i.e. school or work assignment). Symptoms of anxiety are similar to those of stress. Both children and adults can suffer from anxiety.
Excessive stress and anxiety can affect your day to day functioning and may interfere with school, work or social interactions with others.
(From the American Psychological Association)
Stress and Students
Stress effects both kids and adults. Causes of stress in both younger kids and adolescents includes pressure to do well in school, after school activities, friends and peer pressure, parental divorce or separation, moving or changing schools, the news and things happening around the world, and the list goes on.
Stress and anxiety may manifest differently in kids and adolescents. Some common symptoms of stress are short-term behavioral changes (mood swings, acting out, changes in sleep patterns), stomach pains, headaches, and trouble concentrating.
Just For Teens: A Personal Plan for Managing Stress - Provides more information about stress and its effects on teens. Students can also fill out a personal action plan on how they can manage their stress.
See the short video below for more information about anxiety and children.
Don't Dismiss Their Feelings and Ask Questions
It's important to acknowledge your child's feelings. Don't be quick to assume your child is overreacting or try to make them feel better by telling them "don't worry". Ask questions to understand what may be causing your child's anxiety. Some questions you could ask include:
- Tell me more.
- Does it happen at certain times more than others?
- Is there something specific that brings it on?
- When did this start?
If you understand what is causing these feelings, you may be better able to address them at the root. You also want to acknowledge that what they are telling you is real and that you want to help them.
Activities to Help Reduce Anxiety
- Build a Tower - Use whatever you have available to see how high of a tower you can build
- Laughter - Watch something funny together
- Art - Draw people or things that make you feel safe and happy, color pictures (www.outschool.com - has a lot of art classes for kids of all ages, sign up for assistance to pay $1 per class)
- Build a Fort - Create an indoor fort using blankets, pillows and furniture
- Physical Activity - Schedule time (30 min, 1 hour) into each day for exercise and physical activity
- Take a Walk - Get outside for 20 minutes each day (depending on weather) to enjoy the fresh air
- Art - Color, draw or create something. Use YouTube for free online drawing tutorials (Disney Parks - learn to draw Disney characters)
Find more ideas at The Crisis Management Institute
Resources and Tips
Be a Part of the Conversation holds weekly discussions every Tuesday at 7:00 pm addressing substance use and addiction and their impact on individuals and families. Click here to learn more about the discussions
For daily video tips and other resources to support your kids during Covid-19 visit The Child Mind Institute
School's Out: A Parents' Guide for Meeting the Challenge During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Offers suggestions on how to maintain structure at home for children
Hatboro Horsham Student Assistance Program (SAP)
Dawn Tucker, Hatboro Horsham SAP Coordinator
Angela Hiller & Ann Pollock, Merakey SAP Counselors
Hatboro Horsham's Student Assistance Program (SAP) is an in-school service to provide support for students experiencing academic, behavioral and/or emotional difficulties that may pose a barrier for school success. These services include group and individual support, peer mediation, and help connecting families to community resources.
Hatboro Horsham School District partners with Merakey, a behavioral health agency, to contract counselors out at the elementary, middle and high school level. For more information about SAP services you can contact Dawn Tucker, email@example.com. For specific concerns or questions about your child, please reach out to your child’s school counselor.