By Shula Levin, LCSW-C
Bills to pay, jobs to succeed in, appointments to make, kids to care for … the list goes on and on. Is it any surprise that most adults report feeling overwhelmed and stressed in everyday life?! In fact, being stressed is such a common and universal occurrence, that since 1992, the entire month of April has been dubbed Stress Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to raising awareness about the causes of stress and offering coping methods to deal with it in a healthy way.
Yet feeling stressed is not something experienced solely by adults; children have myriad responsibilities, pressures, and expectations that induce stress, and this past year, with the additional challenges of COVID, checking in with your child is more important than ever.
Some common stressors that your child may be grappling with, specifically during the era of COVID, include:
- Worrying about school and grades: While this is a long-standing stressor for many kids, this past year has particularly increased academic stress, as many children have needed to adapt to remote learning.
- Dealing with problems with friends and social concerns: Another common and frequent stressor for children, yet COVID has reduced social opportunities, thereby increasing isolation and loneliness in many children.
- Coping with challenges within the family or household: All families experience some level of stress, yet there are times that responsibilities, expectations, and changes within the household are greater. Be mindful of all the changes that have occurred in your household this year that may be impacting your child’s stress.
- Grappling with their own emotions and moods: All kids struggle at times with some of the tougher emotions, such as sadness, loss, loneliness, and self-doubt. The challenges, changes, and uncertainty that COVID provided has likely impacted your child’s own emotions, moods, and feelings.
When you become aware of these stressors in your child, there are many ways to address them, not only during Stress Awareness Month, but year-round:
- Exercise: Encourage your child to take even 10 minutes of their day to get up and move; moving and stretching has proven to improve overall mood.
- Get enough to eat and sleep: Nourishing your child’s body with food and ensuring they get an adequate amount of sleep will keep their mind, soul, and feelings up.
- Schedule time with friends: Social interaction, even if virtual, brings conversation, laughter, and learning to daily life.
- Artistic expression: Whether through drawing, music, dancing, or writing, there are so many creative ways for your child to express themselves and their emotions.
- Take a deep breath: When a deep breath is taken, oxygen is sent to the brain, which will help your child calm down and release stress.
This month – and every month thereafter, remember to check in with your child about their own experiences with stress and offer ideas to combat the struggle. The whole family will be better for it.
Shula Levin, LCSW-C is a Clinical Therapist at Jewish Community Services
JCS is a comprehensive human services organization providing a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or 410-466-9200.