How to Help an Overwhelmed Student with Stress

Stress much? If it’s the end of the school year, the answer is probably yes.

For teens, it can become hard to juggle school obligations with social commitments. Even fun events like prom, sports, banquets, band and choir concerts can become overwhelming when combined with final exams, class projects, and standardized tests.

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“High school students can get stressed out as the school year comes to an end for many reasons,” said Bryan Bruckman, counselor at Saline High School. “For a lot of our students, the stressors are wanting to be finished with school but having to finish out the last several weeks. For some, there is stress about not being around their friends every day as we head into summer.”

Parents may need to keep an eye on the calendar and find ways to help their teens manage the daily routine in a healthy way. Exercise, sleep, and nutritious meals can be extra important at this time.


The end of the year is also a time when students may have increased fears of missing out. Decisions are made regarding admission into clubs and organizations like the National Honor Society. Social events, such as prom, provide a plethora of choices, from dates to dresses.

“As we work with students, we encourage them to control what they can control. They may not be able to control what is happening, but they can control how they react to what is happening,” Bruckman said.


“For seniors, one of the things we see that contributes to stress is trying to get across the finish line to complete graduation,” Bruckman said. “They’ve gone to high school for 4 years and are ready to be done and move on to their next adventure. Many of them also come to the realization that in a few short weeks, this is the end. They’ve lived with their parents and gone to their local schools and will now be moving out and on to their next destination. It hits them that this stage of their lives is over.”

Making the grade

While teens may be tempted to put off their obligations and assignments until the last minute, this tends to compound the problem.

“The most prevalent negative method we see students use to relieve stress is to try to avoid what is stressing them out. Oftentimes, this is school related, and then they just find that things will pile up and become a greater stress later,” Bruckman said. 

Bruckman suggests that teens adhere to a schedule and attack their studying and projects in smaller chunks of time.

Eat, sleep, repeat

Self care needs to be a priority to help alleviate the tension.

“Students are encouraged to find out what coping mechanisms are helpful to them,” Bruckman said. “Some students find that deep breathing, listening to music, and exercise can be successful.”

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Positive stress relievers can include: keeping a journal, exercising, spending time outdoors, meditating, limiting excess caffeine, limiting screen time and spending time with family and friends.

As the school year winds down to a close, parents may need to set aside time to have meaningful conversations with their teen to gauge how they are handling this transition.

“Keep an open dialogue with your children and continue to look for any changes in their attitudes or behaviors,” Bruckman said. “Just because things went well during the first part of the school year doesn’t mean that they will end up that way. Parents can also be aware of stressors that adults may not think are a big deal, but may also be a very big deal to a teenager.”

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