It took me many more days than usual to write this post, not for a lack of desire but because of the realities of the topic itself. I’m a divorced dad with two kids from separate marriages and school started for the younger one (who turned 8 years old today 🥳) last week and the older one (17 years) this week. Between back to school shopping, soccer, football practice, orientations, etc I found myself juggling my life more than balancing it these past few weeks.
Much like myself, many parents/ guardians (grandparents, aunts/ uncles, etc) of school age children experience a great deal of turmoil in their lives around back to school time and there are statistics to support this. By aggregating information from sources such as the American Psychological Association, the National Sleep Foundation, and the National Center for Education Statistics I found some interesting data:
61% of parents feel stressed about back-to-school.
42% of parents lose sleep during the back-to-school season.
29% of parents experience headaches or migraines during back-to-school season.
27% of parents experience stomach aches or indigestion during back-to-school season.
19% of parents experience anxiety or depression during the back-to-school season.
As I mentioned earlier when discussing my back to school challenges, there are a number of reasons this time of year brings about a great deal of angst and turmoil in adult’s lives. For one, it can be a time of great financial strain, as we need to purchase new school supplies, clothes, and transportation. Additionally, back-to-school is a big time of adjustment for our children as they get used to new schedules and routines- no more up all night playing video games and sleeping all day lol. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and sleep problems.
Here are some tips for parents/ guardians to manage back-to-school stress:
Get organized. The first step to managing stress is to get organized. This means making a list of all the things that need to be done and then prioritizing them. It also means setting realistic expectations for yourself and your children.
Delegate. Don't try to do everything yourself. Delegate tasks to your children, your partner, or other family members. This will free up your time and energy so you can focus on the things that are most important.
Take care of yourself. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. These activities will help you to manage stress and stay healthy.
Spend time with loved ones. Connecting with loved ones can help to reduce stress and boost your mood. Make time for activities that you enjoy doing with your family and friends.
Practice relaxation techniques. There are many relaxation techniques that can help to reduce stress, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. Find a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.
Seek professional help if needed. If you are struggling to manage your back-to-school stress, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can teach you coping mechanisms and help you to develop a stress management plan.
We’ve talked about the parents but we’re just the opening act. Let's turn our focus to the stars of the show, the kids. As mentioned, the back-to-school transition can be a challenging time for students of all ages. Whether it's starting a new school year, transitioning from a relaxed summer schedule, or facing academic pressures, the stress and anxiety associated with this time can have a significant impact on a student's mental health. It's important for us as parents and guardians to recognize and address these challenges to ensure a healthy and successful start to the school year.
The impact of stress and anxiety on students
Stress and anxiety in schools have become increasingly prevalent issues among students. The pressures to perform academically, navigate social relationships, and manage extracurricular activities can be overwhelming. These stressors can lead to a range of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, and burnout. It's crucial to understand the potential long-term consequences of unmanaged stress and anxiety on students' overall well-being.
Exploring holistic approaches to support mental health
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in holistic approaches to support mental health. Instead of relying solely on traditional pharmaceutical interventions, many people are turning to natural remedies and lifestyle modifications to promote overall well-being. Holistic approaches aim to address the root causes of mental health issues and provide parents with a comprehensive toolkit for managing stress and anxiety.
Introducing CBD and its potential benefits
One natural aid that has gained significant attention in recent years is CBD, short for cannabidiol. CBD is a compound derived from the hemp plant and is known for its potential therapeutic properties. Unlike its counterpart THC, CBD does not produce psychoactive effects and is legal in many parts of the world. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including stress and anxiety.
Research on CBD and its effects on stress and anxiety
Several studies have explored the potential benefits of CBD for managing stress and anxiety. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that CBD demonstrated anxiolytic properties and reduced anxiety symptoms in individuals with social anxiety disorder. Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2020 suggested that CBD may help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and long-term effects of CBD, these initial findings are promising.
How CBD can be incorporated into a back-to-school routine
If you're considering incorporating CBD into your back-to-school routine, it's essential to consult with a healthcare practitioner prior to use, especially in children under the age of 18. Research has shown that high THC use can negatively affect the developing brain of school age children making CBD a more “attractive” option for many people. CBD comes in various forms, including oils, capsules, edibles, and topicals. Start with a low dose and gradually increase as needed. It's important to note that CBD may interact with certain medications, so it's crucial to discuss potential drug interactions with a qualified healthcare provider.
Tips for managing stress and anxiety during the school year
In addition to CBD, there are several other strategies that can help manage stress and anxiety during the school year. First and foremost, prioritize self-care. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and engage in regular physical activity. Find healthy coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or journaling. Establish a routine and schedule to create a sense of stability and predictability. Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out for support. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional if you're feeling overwhelmed.
The elephant in the room: Weed
According to research, the top reasons children and adolescents use marijuana are:
To feel good or get high. This is the most common reason cited by teens who use marijuana. They may use it to relax, relieve stress, or have fun.
To fit in with their friends. Peer pressure is a major factor in why teens use marijuana. They may feel like they need to use it in order to be accepted by their friends.
To self-medicate. Some teens use marijuana to self-medicate for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To experiment. Some teens use marijuana simply out of curiosity. They want to see what it's like.
To relieve boredom. Some teens use marijuana to relieve boredom. They may use it to pass the time or to make things more interesting.
It is important to note that marijuana use can have negative consequences for children and adolescents, even if they do not use it regularly. These consequences can include:
Impaired cognitive development. Marijuana use can interfere with the development of the brain, especially in the areas responsible for learning and memory.
Increased risk of mental health problems. Marijuana use can increase the risk of developing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
Increased risk of addiction. Marijuana use can lead to addiction, especially in teens who are already at risk for addiction.
Increased risk of accidents and injuries. Marijuana use can impair judgment and coordination, which can increase the risk of accidents and injuries.
If you are concerned that your child or adolescent is using marijuana, it is important to talk to them about it. Let them know that you are concerned about their health and safety. You can also talk to their doctor or a therapist for more information and support. And remember, CBD is NOT marijuana.
Strategies for parents to support their child's mental health
As parents, we play a crucial role in supporting our childrens’ mental health during the back-to-school transition. I encourage you to maintain open communication with your child and create a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings. Help them develop healthy coping mechanisms and teach them stress management techniques. Set realistic expectations and emphasize the importance of self-care. Stay involved in their school life, attend parent-teacher conferences, and address any concerns promptly. Remember that each child is unique, and their needs may vary, so be attentive and responsive to their individual needs.
Other holistic techniques for a healthy back-to-school transition
While CBD and stress management strategies are valuable tools, there are several other holistic techniques that can support a healthy back-to-school transition. These include aromatherapy, herbal remedies, and mindfulness practices. Aromatherapy, using essential oils like lavender or chamomile, can help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Herbal remedies, such as chamomile tea or lemon balm supplements, may have calming effects. Mindfulness practices, such as yoga or meditation, can help students cultivate a sense of presence and reduce stress.
Take away points: Embracing a holistic approach for a successful school year
Get organized. Start planning early and make a list of everything that needs to be done. This will help you to feel more in control.
Delegate tasks. Don't try to do everything yourself. Ask your partner, children, or other family members for help.
Take care of yourself. Sleep is very important for many reasons, so make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. These activities will help you to manage stress and stay healthy.
Talk to your children. Let your children know that you are feeling stressed and ask them for their help. They may be able to offer some ideas on how to make things easier.
Set realistic expectations. Don't expect your children to adjust to a new school year overnight. It takes time to get used to new routines and expectations.
Be patient and understanding. There will be ups and downs throughout the school year. Be patient with your children and yourself.
Get organized. Make a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. This will help you to stay on top of your work and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Get enough sleep. Most experts recommend that teenagers get 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Getting enough sleep will help you to stay alert and focused in school.
Eat healthy foods. Eating healthy foods will give you the energy you need to get through the day. Avoid sugary drinks and processed foods.
Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve your mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Take breaks. Don't try to cram everything into one day. Take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge.
Ask for help if you need it. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your parents, teachers, or friends if you are struggling.
And of course, make sure to have lots of fun this year!
1. American Psychological Association. Stress in America. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/10/cover-kids-stress
2. National Sleep Foundation. Sleep in America Poll - Sleep and Stress. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-polls-data/sleep-in-america-poll/sleep-and-stress
3. National Center for Education Statistics. Back to School Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372
4. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Anxiety. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jclp.22773
5. Journal of Psychopharmacology. Cannabidiol (CBD) as a Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881120936419
6. Harvard Health Publishing. What are the benefits of CBD? Is it safe to use? https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
7. Mayo Clinic. What are the benefits of CBD? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-2044670