April is recognized as National Stress Awareness Month, aiming to help people better understand the negative impacts stress can create. Learning how to manage stress is essential for all individuals, including children, to lead healthier lifestyles. Doing so can also result in better overall mental and physical well-being and a decreased likelihood of health-related issues that develop or worsen because of stress. 

Downey Unified is aware of the importance of mental health in our students’ well-being, and we want to remind families that students can visit the Wellness Centers/Spaces on campus to find resources, talk to someone, or just enjoy a quiet moment in a relaxing environment. 

Stress occurs in students of all ages. Younger children may experience stress from circumstances at home—and this includes positive changes. Situations such as divorce, loss, moving into a new home and a new sibling arriving are only a handful of scenarios that could create stress within your child. While at school, young students may feel stress as a result of assignments in the classroom, trying to make friends and a number of other factors that contribute to kids feeling an extra weight on their shoulders.

Middle school and high school students tend to face greater amounts of stress and anxiety, as well. With an increased emphasis on academics, the importance placed on social media, constant pressure to fit in with peers, starting at a new school and several additional contributors, teenagers have much on their plates, often causing them to feel overwhelmed. While feeling a bit of stress is normal, if students don’t learn how to manage it effectively, it can lead to stronger anxiety that can eventually impact both their physical and mental health.

However, students can learn to manage their stress and create more positive outcomes. Below are habits families can help their kids form to deal with stress and minimize the potential harmful impacts on mental and physical well-being.

  • Exercise regularly (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60 minutes of activity daily for children ages 6 to 17)
  • Maintain a healthy diet (this includes limiting caffeine intake)
  • Take time to slow down and practice relaxation techniques (e.g., meditation or breathing exercises)
  • Get adequate sleep each night (for kids and teens, 8 to 10 hours is the recommended amount)
  • Spend time with friends and loved ones
  • Make time for enjoyable activities and hobbies
  • Talk to a trusted adult about the stress and stressors
  • Write about the feelings and/or create gratitude lists to be reminded of reasons to be thankful

To learn more about National Stress Awareness Month, the National Institutes of Health offers additional information and a variety of helpful resources.