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4 tips to address the emotional stress of back to school

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Families are going through many stressors with the new school year approaching. Plans for schools are being announced and yet there are still changes and concerns amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At these times, it’s vital for parents and families to support each other, said Travis Mickelson Mickelson, Mental Health Integration Director for Intermountain Healthcare. Here are 4 tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety:

1. Prioritize Your Family Needs

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC has encouraged in-person learning to begin this school year. It is important to listen to this guidance; however, the guidance does not necessarily take into account the individual needs of your family.

For example, if your school is offering in-person or online options, and your child needs social interaction and learns better in a structured environment, you might be led to choose in-person learning. If your child did better in online instruction, you might be led to choose that. 

Parents are struggling with the decision to start the school year virtually or physically in school – especially if all the parents are working.  But whatever the choice you choose – you have to do what is best for the whole family and the decision should be free of shame or guilt.

Have a sit-down conversation with your spouse, partner, co-parent, etc, about what is going to work best for the children and the family, then support each other in enacting that decision and feel confident that you made the best decision with the information you had.

2. Understand These are Uncertain Times

Everyone needs to get to a point where they are able to be flexible – understand that there will be changes to routines. Don’t be stressed too much when they do. The added stress can leave the whole family in turmoil. Especially if parents can model for their children how to approach change with curiosity and a positive, hard-working attitude, that will be very beneficial for the kids.

3. Hang on to The Positives of Quarantine

Did you relish the times of board games or walks? Then keep them as part of your family routine. Hold tight to the connections and keep them meaningful. This is will help cope with the stressors. 

Social interaction is so important. Keep the ways we found to socialize in any way – virtually or in person.

4. Parents Can Be Advocates

If the plan is not working, then parents should be empowered to reach out to schools and engage in constructive conversations. These conversations should not be complaints, but a discussion about finding a commonplace to help the student and family. 

RESOURCES:

Intermountain Emotional Health Relief Hotline:

833-442-2211 

Available: 10 am to 10 pm, 7 Days A Week

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