Halstrom Blog Post

3 Ways to Cope with School Stress and the Holidays that Can Improve Your Teen's Health

3 Ways to Cope with School Stress and the Holidays that Can Improve Your Teen's Health

At Halstrom Academy, we see your teen as more than just a learning machine. We know each student is a whole person and we encourage holistic solutions to common academic problems, including school related stress. In fact, we acknowledge that often what seems like school stress, may be related to a student's overall health. Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all approach, we encourage students and parents to explore solutions that work best for them. Our goal is each student's optimum physical, mental, social, and academic health.

Here are 3 health related causes to consider when dealing with school and holiday stress.

1. Consider food sensitivities

We all know that the holidays include eating tasty foods that are not always good for us. But while most of us lament gaining a few extra pounds, some people may face more serious health concerns from holiday fare.

Food sensitivities are well documented to cause high levels of stress in the brain and body. Gluten in particular can aggravate the brain leading to high levels of stress and even depression. Not everyone is sensitive to gluten, but for those who do have gluten sensitivities, going on a gluten-free diet can be life-changing.

Other common food sensitivities include dairy, eggs, and soy. Consider getting your teen tested for these common food intolerances.

2. Limit sugar intake

Even if your teen doesn't have diabetes or other serious blood sugar issues, rises and crashes in blood sugar that occur after eating sweet foods can put your teen's emotions on a roller coaster ride. Of course, with all the sugary treats available during the holidays, sugar-related mood swings often take a turn for the worse.

Avoiding sugar altogether is challenging during the holidays and probably not necessary for combatting stress. Just make sure your teen eats sweet foods after a nutritious meal or snack. That way, blood sugar fluctuations will be less severe and moods will stay more even.

3. Ensure adequate sleep

Lack of sleep takes its toll on productivity and emotional health. According to the American Psychological Association, "sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood." The APA goes on to say that "on average, teens say they sleep 7.4 hours a night on a school night and 8.1 hours a night on a non-school night." This is less than the 8.5-9.25 hours they recommend as necessary for teens to function at their optimum.

Try turning off all technology at least an hour before you want your teen to go to bed. Some people have trouble falling asleep right after looking at a bright screen and studies even suggest that the blue light on our computer screens limits the production of melatonin, which is a hormone necessary for sleep.

The holidays don't have to be a time of stress for your teen. Just one or more of these simple health tips could provide dramatic relief to your teen's stress levels and fluctuating moods. That way, your whole family can relax and focus on enjoying the holidays.