Handling pressure, especially during the  dog days of summer can be trying. Summer break is winding down and students and parents are in full ‘back to school’ mode. With the end of the lazy days of summer, the pressure and stress could work itself into a lather over the coming weeks. Here are a couple of stressors to consider:

Back to School Shopping

It typically starts with the exercise of back to school shopping for supplies and clothes. You have a long list of required and recommended school supplies. Then there is the challenge of getting the right clothes, shoes, and backpack to ‘fit in’. You have to deal with large crowds, financial constraints, and social expectations. Add a parent and a teenager to the mix and what could possible go wrong?

Time Management

The next pressure is the managing everyone’s schedule. First you have to get your teen out of bed (a monumental feat to say the least), then everything has to go off without a hitch to get everyone in their respective places…on time! It’ll be like herding cats for at least a week. Don’t forget, the drop-off line at school is horrendous for the first few weeks. It’s challenging to manage three or four people with school, jobs, chores, activities, and any kind of social life, and coordinate everything without bringing things to a boil.

New Classes and Peers

One huge potential stressor for teenagers is often the pressure of fitting into a new social dynamic while being introduced to a stepped-up academic challenge. It can seem overwhelming.

We’ve all been there. As parent or teen, or both. Here are some ways that you can help to minimize your stress:

  • Strategize your back to school shopping experience

For some reason, there is an expectation that you need every school supply on the first day of school. You probably won’t find every school supply, cute skirt or cool gym shoes in one marathon shopping session anyway. Space this exercise out during the entire first month of school, or even better throughout the entire year. Back to school shopping events can resemble the craziness of Black Friday shopping after Thanksgiving.

  • Prepare the night before

The best time to prepare is when there is no pressure. Plan as much as possible, from what you’re wearing, to what you will eat the next day, to contingencies for when things will go wrong. Having a back-up for missed rides and changes in schedule will reduce the stress when life happens.

  • Set aside time each day to decompress

We all need an opportunity to decompress. Some people meditate, some listen or play music, others read or draw or look for Pokémon. Any calming activity that you enjoy will work. Checking social media is the opposite of this. Minimize interacting with others during this time unless it’s a group meditation or yoga.

  • Write in a journal, with intention

“A vision without an action is a daydream. An action without vision is a nightmare.”
Most of us want to reduce or effectively manage stress and pressure but we often don’t take any action to identify the source of our stress or pressure. Take some time to journal your experiences. Even a few sentences will help create some awareness. Make sure you answer these questions: What am I feeling? What events happened that lead to this feeling? How do I want to feel? What positive steps can I take to reach this objective?

Summary

Parents should model how to handle pressure

Much of teenager’s behavior is directly related to the actions you take, daily. Therefore, if parents are optimistic, think positively, and put things in perspective, the odds are teenagers will do the same. Show me how the people in a teen's life handles pressure, and more often than not, you see how the teen will manage stress. This isn’t always the case, but it is often enough so, consider the impact.

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