How to help stressed out students
Five big problems busy students face – and two ways to help overcome them.
Written by Alisa Grace
If you are a student, the parent of a student, or even a youth pastor, you probably know that students’ stress levels increase at different times of the year... especially around exam time.
Students face stress for a wide variety of reasons, including:
As the weight of homework increases, some students withdraw from social activities, thus increasing their feelings of isolation and loneliness.
2. Academic pressure
Academic pressure is beginning to mount because of procrastination, difficulty of work, and lack of ability.
3. Inability to figure out or achieve goals
Sudents often experience confusion over major or career goals and/or frustration over not getting the classes they want or need.
4. Lack of support
Feelings of depression and isolation can impact students when they feel that others around them aren't being supportive or understanding of their situation.
5. Opinion overload
Author Greg McKeown writes, “It’s not just the number of choices that has increased exponentially, it is also the strength and number of outside influences on our decision that that has increased. Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload.”
What can we do to help?
So, given these very real stressors, what can you as a fellow student, parent, friend or mentor do to help?
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT)
1. Show that you care
First, be interested! Show your student that you are aware it is a difficult time of life for them and that you really do care.
A great way to do this is by arranging time for a deeper conversation. It can be by phone or in person, but either way, set aside some time to ask your student the four following questions:
- How are you taking care of yourself? Research shows only 11% of students report experiencing healthy amounts of sleep.
- Who are you connecting with? Studies show that at this age, peers have more influence on a student’s life than parents, professors or pastors.
- What is God up to in the midst of your circumstances? Cultivating spiritual grounding, calmness and composure can enhance psychological well-being.
2. Be a good listener
The key to understanding your student is to suppress your desire to persuade, advise or correct and just listen.
The writer of Proverbs 18:13 put it this way: “To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame.”
When you take time to focus on your student’s heart – their thoughts, emotions, and views – you not only connect through rich conversation, but you express your love. Your student will recognize and appreciate the value of such an authentic demonstration of your care, your support and your desire to truly understand him/her.
The result should be that your student’s stress levels decrease and that they feel more emotionally prepared and supported through their academic journey.
Alisa Grace is Co-Director, Center for Marriage & Relationships at Biola University. Take a virtual tour of Biola today!