Stressed Out Students

This time of year, the number one descriptor our students use is “stressed out”.  Of course they are.  This is the culmination of the school year, there are many projects, exams, and papers due; students are excited, nervous, worried, anxious, looking forward to and dreading the summer; and have many details to work out about the future.  Easy, right?

There are many ways to help your stressed out student, but it’s not a one-size-fits all prescription.  Some students find it helpful to list with a parent or family member the upcoming requirements they are handling, but other students find that even more stress-inducing.  If a student would rather talk about what’s happening at home or plans for next semester, let them. With my daughter, I find that she often just wants to unload all of her worries onto me, and feels better afterwards (never mind that I feel worse!) As hard as it is, our students don’t necessarily want us to DO anything about the stress, they just want us to acknowledge it.  We can’t help our students study, we can’t write a paper for them, and we can’t make a noisy roommate disappear.

Therapy dog Zoe enjoying some petting.

So what can we do?  There are many ways to be supportive. A good old-fashioned note or card sent to the student is always appreciated.  E-mail and texts are also wonderful, but with no expectation of reciprocal messages. Although you might be anxious to know how your student is doing, they might consider having to respond to you as another thing on their plate. In addition, your student likely knows the basics of getting through the end of the semester in a healthy way—getting sufficient sleep, exercise, eating regular meals and avoiding junk food, taking regular breaks and using the supports that surround them, but might need some gentle reminders.

Every semester at Emerson, several department get together to host the “Cirque de Destress”, an afternoon of relaxing activities, food and fun.  This event takes place on Friday, April 20 in the Iwasaki Library in the Walker Building.  Some of the perennial favorites are the massage chairs and puppy petting opportunities.  Students may sign up for one of these activities here.  There will also be craft-making, coloring, meditation, light therapy, and lots of supportive staff to help students take advantage of the afternoon.

Is your student a last-minute crammer?  You’ll likely not change them now!  However, it doesn’t hurt to ask them if they’d like you to help by asking for updates on big projects or papers (or if they’d find that annoying.)  How about a student with a slacker partner in a group project?  Again, there’s not much we as parents and concerned family members can do to change it.  But letting your student vent and sympathizing with them might be just what they need.

The one thing every student agrees on is a care package!  Whether you send along a sock monkey, a bag of Smartfood and candy Smarties, or a stress ball, students love to know that someone is thinking about them.  What are your strategies to help your student through the end-of-term? Please share them in the comments section below.

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