Earlier this term, National Stress Awareness Day marked an important opportunity to reflect on the negative impact stress can have on a person’s physical and mental health as well as their general wellbeing.
Young people in particular can feel significant stress when faced with the pressure of achieving at school and in their exams. In fact, 60% of young people have felt so stressed by the pressure to succeed that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
This can place an enormous strain on schools, many of which are unequipped to deal with the rise in students struggling with everyday battles over their self-image, confidence, social media and unhealthy relationships. In order to support students and tackle these ongoing challenges, schools need to help them develop techniques to manage stress.
Through our bespoke workshops, we teach young people techniques and practical strategies to navigate this stress and prioritise mental wellbeing. It is also important for us to explain in which situations each technique is best to use.
Support with feeling overwhelmed
In times of high stress, for example in the lead up to an exam or during times of conflict with friends, anyone, and especially young people, can feel overwhelmed. In this circumstance, students can use specific breathing techniques that seem simple but are extremely effective.
This includes the well-known STOP technique which encourages young people to take a moment to be calm. The technique requires a person to stop what they are doing, take a breath and focus on something else, such as what is happening outside. Following this, students are normally ready to focus again and can be present in lessons.
Furthermore, sometimes students take five minutes to blast their favourite song or dance it out like nobody is watching to distract them from the source of their stress long enough to be able to refocus and continue with their learning afterwards.
It can also be difficult for young people to recognise the stages leading up to feeling overwhelmed, and then once they’re consumed with stress it can be hard to deescalate. For this reason, it is important teachers also support students to recognise why their stress is increasing too much and encourage them to undertake breathing techniques, and identify and tackle the problems which are overwhelming them
Handling longer-term stress
Additionally, schools should be promoting self-care in dealing with longer-term issues around stress. Students should be encouraged to sleep well and take time out of their day for activities that are good for their wellbeing, such as getting outside and doing something they enjoy. This can help young people manage their stress.
Stress can have a real impact on the success of young people and so it is imperative schools do what they can to fully support students to handle overwhelming feelings. Providing them with the advice and top tips to deal with stress will support them throughout the rest of their education and beyond.
By Yvonne Kekeliadis, Founder and Creator of Brightstarz