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Winter Break and Finals: 5 Ways to Encourage Your Teen

winter break and finals

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With winter break on the horizon and final exams around the corner, it’s no surprise that your teen might be experiencing more stress and anxiety during this time of year. 

There is a curriculum to cram, deadlines to meet, and pressure to do well on tests before leaving for the holiday break. Performing well on finals not only requires receiving and processing information from lectures, but it also requires the student to retain and retrieve the information accurately. 

While a bit of stress can keep individuals focused and motivated, too much can be detrimental to their mental health. 

Here are 5 ways you can help support your loved one as they navigate the stress and anxiety of final exams!

1. Have your teen take breaks from studying to get active

Taking breaks can improve your teen’s focus and performance. Help them pick a physical activity they enjoy – whether it’s going for a walk, hitting the gym, practicing yoga, or something else – and have them make time to do it several times a week leading up to finals. 

Setting an alarm on their phone as a reminder or adding it to their calendar can be a helpful tool! 

2. Make eating well-balanced meals a family priority

Increasing evidence suggests that the gut and brain are connected and that eating can affect your mood. Encourage them not to skip meals, especially as finals week approaches. 

Having a family dinner could be a nice way to connect and talk about things that are not related to school! 

3. Help your teen prioritize large goals by breaking them into small steps

Focusing on everything you have to accomplish before finals week can be overwhelming. Instead, your teen can break down big projects or study for tests into bite-sized tasks. They can write them down in a list and check them off as they go. 

This will help them reach their goals and boost their confidence as they conquer their list one item at a time!

4. Create a rest-worthy environment

While it might sound counterintuitive to stop studying in order to get more sleep, researchers found that 82% of students slept less than seven hours the night before an exam – and their grades suffered. 

Students who slept longer the night prior to a test received higher grades. Additionally, consistency matters. Students who slept a similar number of hours each night had higher grades than those who slept regularly on some days and pulled all-nighters on other days. 

Encourage your teen to prioritize consistent sleep!

5. Inspire kindness

Finals week can seem all-consuming, but remember that your teen is a whole person with needs outside of a single week during the semester. Being kind to themselves can help them both academically and from a mental health perspective. Help them approach final exams with self-compassion. That means dropping judgmental or critical thoughts about themselves and practicing self-kindness during this time. 

Showing yourself the same compassion can be a great example for your teen.

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