Positive Stress: How To Help Your Child Succeed
- Understanding the difference between good stress and bad stress and how it impacts a student’s memory and performance is crucial for managing study-related stress.
- Simple self-care strategies such as creating a study schedule, getting enough sleep, practising relaxation techniques, and focusing on the present moment can help students manage stress.
- As a parent, supporting your child in their academic pursuits and encouraging them to prioritise self-care is key to their success and well-being
As a parent, you want the best for your child and want to support them in their academic pursuits. However, it’s not uncommon for students to experience stress, especially when it comes to studying and exams. In this blog, we will explore what stress is, the difference between good stress and bad stress, how stress can impact memory and performance, and provide five tips to help students manage study-related stress.
What is Stress?
Stress is a normal part of life and is defined as “the psychological and physical strain caused by a demand placed upon one’s body or mind” (American Psychological Association, n.d.). When a person experiences stress, the body responds by releasing stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This response is known as the “fight or flight” response and is designed to help the body respond to a perceived threat or challenge.
Good Stress vs. Bad Stress
Not all stress is created equal. There is a difference between good stress, also known as eustress, and bad stress, known as distress (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Eustress is the type of stress that motivates us to perform better and achieve our goals. It’s the stress that helps us get up early in the morning to study or gives us the energy to run a race. On the other hand, distress is the type of stress that is harmful to our health and well-being. It’s the stress that causes us to worry and feel overwhelmed.
How Stress Impacts Memory and Performance
Studies have shown that stress can have a significant impact on a student’s memory and performance. When a person is under stress, their body releases cortisol, which interferes with the normal functioning of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory formation (McEwen & Gianaros, 2010). This can lead to a decrease in the ability to remember information and recall information when needed.
Stress can also impact a student’s performance. When a student is under stress, they may experience feelings of anxiety, which can interfere with their ability to concentrate and think clearly (American Psychological Association, n.d.). This can lead to poor performance on tests and exams.
Five Tips to Help Students Manage Study-Related Stress
- Create a study schedule
Creating a study schedule can help students feel more in control and reduce stress (Harms, 2013). A study schedule should include regular breaks, time for physical activity, and time for relaxation and self-care. When students stick to a schedule, they feel more organized and less overwhelmed.
- Prioritize self-care
Self-care is important for managing stress and maintaining physical and emotional well-being. Encourage your child to engage in activities they enjoy, such as exercise, reading, or spending time with friends and family.
- Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for maintaining physical and emotional well-being (National Sleep Foundation, 2015). When students don’t get enough sleep, they are more likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Encourage your child to establish a bedtime routine and stick to it.
- Practice relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, have been shown to reduce stress and enhance well-being (Khoshaba, DeCola, & Wong, 2014). Parents can encourage their children to experiment with different relaxation techniques to discover what works best for them.
- Focus on the present moment
Focusing on the present moment, instead of worrying about the future, can also reduce stress and improve overall well-being (Chiesa & Serretti, 2009). Parents can support their children in this by encouraging them to take things one day at a time and focus on the present.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it can have a significant impact on a student’s memory and performance. By understanding the difference between good stress and bad stress, and implementing simple self-care strategies, such as creating a study schedule, getting enough sleep, practicing relaxation techniques, and focusing on the present moment, students can manage study-related stress and perform their best. As a parent, you play an important role in supporting your child in their academic pursuits. Encourage them to prioritize self-care and work together to develop a plan to manage stress. With the right tools and support, your child can succeed academically and maintain their physical and emotional well-being.
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress: The different kinds of stress. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-kinds
Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593–600. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0495
Harms, P. (2013). The effects of a structured study schedule on academic performance and stress in college students. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 138. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1513331567?accountid=14608
Khoshaba, D. M., DeCola, J. P., & Wong, E. H. (2014). A pilot study of the effects of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program on stress, mindfulness self-efficacy, and well-being in graduate nursing students. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 11(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijnes-2012-0066
McEwen, B. S., & Gianaros, P. J. (2010). Central role of the brain in stress and adaptation: Links to socioeconomic status, health, and disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186(1), 190-222. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05204.x
National Sleep Foundation. (2015). Sleep and stress. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-and-stress