April is Stress Awareness Month, and it is a good time to reflect on the last year and how the pandemic has affected so many families, in lots of different ways.
With daily routines changing as lockdowns were introduced and eased, schools closed for periods throughout the year, many people furloughed from work, missing loved ones and, sadly, bereavement, it has been an extremely challenging year for most.
It’s important to remember that everyone copes with change and stress in different ways, with some people being able to manage with different coping mechanisms, whilst others can feel overwhelmed and out of control of their feelings.
At Childline, we speak to a lot of children and young people about the stresses in their lives and what causes them.
These causes can vary, ranging from schoolwork, family arguments and disagreements with friends, to bullying, online safety issues and, sadly, even abuse.
Whilst the spring holidays were meant as a time for young people to relax, some teenagers will have used it as an opportunity to study for upcoming assessments.
Although exams are cancelled this year, many children, particularly fourth years and above, will be facing ongoing tests which will determine their grades.
One young person told us: “I’ve been given what feels like a million things to do by school, but I’ve only completed a few of them. I keep getting distracted by my phone, and it’s getting so stressful I’m finding it hard to get motivated, which is making things so much worse.”
Sometimes, as much as we want to, we can’t always take away the causes of stress for children and young people. So instead we have to help them find ways to manage their stress, so it doesn’t get on top of them.
Some children may find writing down or drawing how they feel may help, or maybe simply doing something creative can take their mind off the things causing them stress for a while.
Exercise and sports can help, as can eating and drinking healthily, helping their bodies react to stress in a healthy and manageable way.
On the Childline’s moderated message boards, they can find peer support, as well as our Calm Zone which offers lots of practical tips and activities on how to feel better.
If things still seem overwhelming, even after taking a break, it may be a good idea to plan what to do about the things that are causing them stress.
Talking is key. Parents and carers can help children in the first instance by listening to their concerns and worries and offering support.
But if children and young people find it hard to talk to their parents, for whatever reason, Childline is here, on 0800 11 11 or at