Back to School Stress

If you walk into any Office Supply or Value Mart store this week, you will quickly see that the shelves are lined with markers, crayons, notebooks, and backpacks, meaning one thing: it’s back to school time! Many parents are turning cartwheels at the fact that their kids now have a daily routine again. Teachers are adjusting to waking back up at the crack of dawn.

But, what about our kids? How are they feeling? For even the happiest and easy going of kids, starting back to school can bring on feelings of nervousness, stress, and fear. Children will be thrown into new environments, with new teachers, new friends, and a whole new set of classroom guidelines and routines to learn. For many children, they are walking right into the unknown. In most cases, these children will experience physical symptoms due to their fear and anxiety about what is to come.

As the school year begins, children often begin to experience abdominal pain and discomfort. Believe it or not, these symptoms can be strongly tied to anxiety. The gut contains the largest amount of nerves outside of the brain, and the gut and brain share many of the same nerve connections. Additionally, when the body experiences stress, hormones and chemicals are released by the body and enter the digestive tract, where they can interfere with absorption of nutrition. Because scientific research clearly proves this brain-gut relationship, how can we use this information to help our children when they experience those stress related tummy issues??

Check out the list below:

  1. Exercise-Being physically active serves as a huge stress reliever. Exercise releases positive endorphins in our bodies, helping us to feel better and experience positive emotions. Make time for your child to get outside and run, jump, and play.
  2. Talking/Journaling-Encouraging your child to have an outlet for his/her stress can bring huge relief. Anxiety increases when we internalize our emotions, so helping your child to get the stress out and into the open will help him or her experience less anxiety.
  3. Mindfulness/Rest-Encourage your child to take time to focus on what he/she is thankful for and to take time to rest the mind. Our society is a “go go go” society, and all of us need mental breaks from the chaos to refresh and recharge us.
  4. Peppermint-Peppermint is known to calm the tummy. Sucking on a mint or sipping on a cup of warm peppermint tea may help alleviate the physical symptoms your child is experiencing due to stress.
  5. Limit extra curricular activities-Give your child breaks between activities and limit the number of activities your child is involved in. Children need time and space to rest. If they are constantly shuffled from one activity to the next, they become stressed and overstimulated.

If your child continues to experience tummy issues related to stress and anxiety, talking with a therapist could be the key to helping your child learn the coping mechanisms that he or she needs to handle the anxiety. We would love to help your child’s tummy and mind get back to a healthy state. Give us a call at 912-319-5552.