Community Magazine

School's Out! (Almost)

By Nina
The end of the school year is upon us - can I get an Amen? Although the end of the school year is widely celebrated around the country (and world), it is also one of the times of highest stress among students, teachers, and parents. So, I'm going to talk to each of you. Even if you don't fit into any of these categories, listen up - you have friends who do.
Students - You are facing final exams and the consequences, good or bad, of those final grades. You are likely to be experiencing high levels of stress, resulting in disruptions in eating, sleeping, and socializing. This is bad enough if you're healthy. It is far worse if you're struggling with physical or mental health issues. To get through your finals, you need to reduce stress. See the end of this post for some strategies and links. Also know that your school (whether middle, high, or college) will have counselors or other resources for you, should you want or need more help than you can find on your own.
Particularly for those of us with mental health issues, the coming lack of schedule and potential increase in free time can be horrifying. For instance, my depression and anxiety combine to make me want to sleep all day, rather than face the daunting task of forming and following my own schedule. This, in turn, exacerbates my eating issues. So, if you have similar issues, I strongly encourage you to make a plan now. Ask trusted friends to help you create and stick to a schedule. Make practical, reachable goals for your summer. Do anything that might help you keep eating, keep moving, keep fighting to stay healthy (or start fighting, if you're not already).
School's Out! (Almost)
Teachers - You are also facing final exams, albeit from the writing and grading side of things. This means that you are also facing having to deal with complaints from students and parents about those grades. As a teacher with a desk and email inbox both overflowing with things to grade, I fully understand. You should see the list of stress-busting ideas below.
As a teacher who struggles with various mental health issues, I know that this can be an extremely difficult time. See the stress-busting tips below. Also consider intentionally making time to interact with colleagues and friends outside of work during this time. You feel the busiest, but this is the time that you need socialization the most. It can make you feel less alone and force you to step away from work, even if only for a little while.
Parents - Bad news, when summer comes, your kids come home full time. This means you have to arrange for child care, if they are too young to stay alone, and worry about them being alone even if they are old enough. If your kids are teenagers, this likely also means some disagreements, to say the least. Sadly, I have not been blessed with children, so I can't offer suggestions with much authority here. What I will say is that my friends who are parents have emphasized over and over the need to create space for themselves to just be themselves without the stress of parenting. This might mean creating a weekly date night with your significant other, a daily Bible time where your family knows not to bother you, or five stolen minutes of reading before the baby starts screaming and you hear the teenager leave without permission. Whenever it is - make time for yourself. It may seem like a scheduling nightmare, but you'll thank me later, when you realize you've managed to cling to sanity. :)
School's Out! (Almost)
Stress-Busting Links & IdeasSince you're reading this, I presume you're spending a fair amount of time online, so give virtual bubblewrapguided meditationvirtual stress ball, or just get some peace and quiet.
For offline de-stressing, try exercise, creating some kind of art, taking a bath, listening to your favorite music, or harmless destruction (such as tearing up paper).

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