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Managing the mayhem: Quick tips to beat back to school stress

Teen Vogue Back to School event in LA welcomes a new year for teens
Teen Vogue Back to School event in LA welcomes a new year for teens
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

As the summer comes to an end, things are probably already starting to take on a quicker pace. All over the country kids are starting to go back to school. The preparation process can be both exciting and stressful. The mad dash to buy school supplies alone can contribute to high levels of anxiety. The best way to conquer stress is to focus on keeping it calm and cool. What follows are a few essential tips to ensure that you don’t let the frenetic energy in the air get the best of you.

1.) Structure conquers stress.

In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed by everything you know you need to do now, take the time to really think about what it is that needs to get done. You can start by simply making a list of all your to-do tasks. Once you have the list down on paper (or in your notes on your smart phone), prioritize each item and include a realistic deadline. As you take yourself through this process you may realize that many of the items on your list are less than urgent.

2.) Mindfulness trumps multi-tasking.

You can’t do it all at once, so stop trying. You are one person and while you may have a talent for taking on several tasks at a time, trying to do too much increases stress. More stress makes you feel like an inefficient mess. You are best served focusing on one task at a time. You will feel a real sense of accomplishment as you cross each item off your prioritized list.

3.) Stress and anxiety can be contagious but so can cool, calm and collected.

Back to school is often very stressful for kids. This is especially true if your children are transitioning to middle school or high school. Your children however, take their cues from you. In order to take the anxiety and stress down a notch, focus on keeping yourself calm and centered. Even if inside you are feeling overwhelmed, present with a smile and a ‘can do’ attitude. Keeping calm is catchy. Soothing words and an easygoing approach can help both you and your children to relax and take things in stride.

4.) When it is all about them, it is important to schedule ‘me time.’

You may initially feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to focus on you. In truth however, when you are less stressed you are able to be more effective in attending to those around you. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed about taking time for yourself, be sure to add your alone time into your daily schedule. This is one task that should surely take high priority.

5.) Use technology to your advantage.

Even if you are not the most tech savvy individual, there are a whole host of ways you can make your life easier with a few strokes on a computer or taps on your cell phone. If you lack confidence in your ability to manage in this arena, ask your kids to help you negotiate the tech world. Your kids will feel empowered, and you will get the help you need. Here are few examples of how to use technology to your advantage:

· Keep your to-do-list on your phone. You can email it to yourself or use a notes app.

· Use the calendar to help you keep to your schedule.

· Order school supplies on line. Most stores offer delivery or in store pick-up options.

· Upload apps to help you get organized and literally where you need to go (i.e. a navigation app if you don’t have GPS).

· Use smartphone technology (for example the iphone’s Siri) to answer questions regarding where to go to get specialty items your kids may need for school (i.e. renting a musical instrument).

Once you get back into the school year groove you are sure to feel a sense of calm take over. Regular routines serve as stabilizing forces. You should have just enough time to take a breath and relax before the hoopla surrounding the holiday season begins.