Life, work, love and loss.

Making the hard decisions lighter.

Mental Health Awareness Week – and Exams

How is your family doing?

           It’s that time of year again – birds are singing, sun is (sometimes) shining and the teenagers are under the duvet revising for their exams.  We look after them as well as we can, throwing in the odd slice of pizza or a fortifying bun, but they get paler and more bad-tempered nonetheless.  The stress they are under to do well is matched only by the anxiety we feel that they do well.  The system favours those who succeed, and teenagers and parents alike are painfully aware of that.  So we watch, tread carefully and wait, feeling helpless.
          But there are things you can do to help them (and you) through this stressful time in their lives.  Encourage them to take a break in the fresh air (and you too!) when things get too much.  Preferably with a friend or a football rather than a phone.  Movement and fresh air are wonderful head clearers, soothing nerves and enabling us to keep on carrying on.  And, incidentally, reinforcing good habits for future lives, because the stress doesn’t stop, and we need to learn to work around it to stay healthy in mind and body.
          Sometimes tempers boil over and kids say hurtful things they don’t mean in times of stress.  They are lashing out but it’s not personal – you just happen to be someone safe who loves them and is close by.  They unconsciously revert to the behaviour of younger children, and it is hard for us to be the adult in these situations and stay calm and unfazed, and not add fuel to the fire.
          The time for talking is when the fire has passed.  It is not only through study that we learn, but through the experience of stress and learning how to navigate it.  So if you have a stressed-out teenager in your household, gird your loins and mildly suggest an outdoor session for the improvement of study capacity – and for the benefits to mental and emotional well-being to you all.  Good luck!