Managing Back-to-School Stress


Photo courtesy Kailyn Chiu

Although returning back to school can be exciting, it is also common to feel stressed about the upcoming school year. The combination of school work, extracurricular activities, and the many other things that Prep students juggle can be overwhelming. Fortunately, by setting a consistent sleep schedule, getting involved, and taking care of oneself, students can develop healthy habits and start off the school year on the right foot.

Setting a regular sleep schedule is critical to one’s health and well-being because sleep is an essential time for the body to grow, fight sicknesses, and maintain healthy hormone levels. Sleep also improves academic performance through boosting processes like memory and information organization. A study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that “hours of sleep per school night were significantly positively associated with GPA and level of motivation.” To get a healthy amount of sleep, it is helpful to create a bedtime routine, avoid caffeine, vigorous exercise, and meals right before sleeping, and wake up and go to bed at around the same time each day.

Another way to destress is to get involved in extracurricular activities like sports and clubs. Joining these activities is a great way to pursue your own hobbies and meet people with common interests. Like sleep, extracurriculars are also proven to increase initiative and academic outcomes. According to Harvard Educational Review, “[Extracurricular activities] foster school identification/commitment that benefits diverse academic outcomes, particularly for socioeconomically disadvantaged students.” The school pride caused by involvement in extracurriculars makes school a more meaningful environment for students. It is also important to note, however, that being involved in too many extracurricular activities can cause even more stress. Because of this, try to prioritize the activities that you like the most and cut out ones that are not as important.

The final crucial way to curb back-to-school stress is setting time aside to take care of yourself. One way to do this is by practicing mindfulness and meditation to help with focus and overall well-being. The Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine says, “mindfulness meditation decreases anxiety and detrimental self-focus of attention, which, in turn, promotes social skills and academic outcomes.” If meditation is not for you, there are still many other ways to take care of oneself. Whether it be spending time with friends, playing with your dog, or journaling, finding a way to relax yourself will benefit you in the long run.

Overall, getting a healthy amount of sleep, joining extracurricular activities, and finding your own relaxation methods will help to reduce the stress of coming back to school. Research demonstrates that these activities improve academic performance in addition to one’s health and happiness. Hopefully, using these methods can help you to thrive not only in the back-to-school season, but also in years to come.