Managing Back to School Stress- from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association

Here is an e-mail I received today from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association about managing back-to-school stress.  I thought I would repost it here.  For more strategies, see my post from last week.


August 8, 2014
For Immediate Release
Marti Evans, Communications Manager
PA Psychological Association
Keep Back To School Stress in Check

The Pennsylvania Psychological Association Offers Strategies for Reducing Stress at the End of Summer
Harrisburg, PA – August 8, 2014 – Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten, returning from a long summer vacation or going to a new school, back to school time can be overwhelming for many parents, children and teens. As the summer comes to an end and the time to return to work or school draws near, many Americans are likely to find their stress levels increase. The transition from summer to school time can test families’ coping skills in dealing with adjustments such as new teachers, new classrooms and new schools as well as parents struggling with the return to hectic work schedules.
“Returning to work after a vacation, transitioning your children to a new school, even fighting a busier rush hour as schools reopen, can all contribute to an increased stress level,” says Dr. David J. Palmiter Jr., a child and adolescent psychologist in the Scranton area. “People who cope with stress in unhealthy ways may alleviate symptoms of stress in the short term, but end up creating significant personal health problems over time, and, ironically, more stress.”
The Pennsylvania Psychological Association offers these strategies to help your family manage stress:
  • Identify your family’s stressors. What events or situations seem to lead to stressful feelings? Are they related to a return to work, getting the children to school, family responsibilities or something else? Do you engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking or eating poorly to cope with your stress? Do you lose patience with your children or spouse when you feel overwhelmed?
  • Talk to your children. Discuss their concerns and worries about the start of a new school year or a new school. Talk about their expectations or fears prior to the first day. If you can, visit the school beforehand with your child so that he or she feels more comfortable on the first day. And after school starts, take time to listen to your children and discuss their day at school and any concerns they may have.
  • Spend time together as a family.   Take time to relax with your spouse and children, eating meals together, scheduling a weekly family game night or engaging in weekend activities such as a bicycle ride, a visit to a museum or a picnic at the local park.
  • Analyze your schedule. Assess your priorities and delegate whatever tasks you can (e.g., order a healthy take out dinner after a busy day, share household responsibilities). Make time for yourself at least two or three times a week. Remember that taking care of yourself helps you to take care of others.
  • Ask for support. Accepting help and support from those who care about you can help alleviate stress. Build a support network from your friends and family. If you or your child continues to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help address the emotions behind your or your child’s behavior, manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors. To locate a Pennsylvania psychologist near you, click here.
What is important is to recognize how your family reacts to changes in its routine, take steps to manage your stress in healthy ways and ask for help when you need it.
To learn more about stress and mind/body health, please visit the Pennsylvania Psychological Association’s website,, or the American Psychological Association’s Consumer Help Center at
The Pennsylvania Psychological Association promotes the science and practice of psychology by supporting psychologists to meet the evolving needs of the public. Our mission is to effectively communicate to the public, policy makers, and membership the value of evidence-based and ethical practices; to support the lifelong learning of competent and ethical psychologists; and to promote and connect our membership to foster a community of professional psychologists.
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Published by Dr. Jesse Matthews

I'm a practicing psychologist and director of Matthews Counseling & Coaching, a private practice in Chester Springs, PA. I work with clients 18 and older, and my specialties include: depression; addiction/substance abuse; relationships; anxiety; ADHD and behavioral issues; and Autism/Asperger's. Our group works with individuals from tween through older adult, helping them with a variety of life issues. Check out the practice website for information on other clinicians and their services: .

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