A is for Anxiety

So here’s what happened to me yesterday…

I was at my locker getting some books and came across my World History textbook.

Oh no!  I realized I hadn’t been to a single class, and final exams were tomorrow!

And then I woke up.

———————–

Even though I haven’t been in school for years, I’m apparently feeling some kinship with all the students headed back to school this week.

This week everyone is dressed for success and jumping into a new routine. It’s exciting! But let’s also remember:

School may be fun, challenging, or downright boring, but at some point in the semester…

School = Anxiety.

There’s the anxiety to fit in and the anxiety to make good grades.

There’s the anxiety of adolescence, and the anxiety of questioning authority.

Running through it all is the great big anxious question:  “Who am I becoming???”

It’s no wonder so many of us have recurring bad dreams that take place back in school.  It’s the time in our lives when we asked that question the most fervently .

It’s a question I’m still asking. You too?

I read an excellent article in The Atlantic that talks about how much anxiety Americans carry around, especially students. Here’s the link.

Anxiety seems to be the watch word for many of us.

Hmm.  Remember Jesus’ thoughts on worry?

Essentially, he said, “Stop and smell the flowers.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  Worry never accomplished anything.”

Wow.  That’s a different message than the world gives. If only we could truly live like that.

What if life could have the freedom, grace, and joy that Jesus describes in Matthew 6?

Easier said than done, I know.  But less anxiety would make school (and life) less painful at times.

Here’s some quick advice (from a non-parent) for reducing anxiety with the student in your life:

1.  Remind students they don’t have to do everything.  Even though our culture promotes participation in a million projects/clubs/teams, the whole idea of sabbath is for resting and recharging on a regular basis. Stop and smell some lilies.

2.  If you’re going to pay for A’s, find a way to reward character, too.  In the long run, emotional intelligence may be more important than book smarts!

3.  Focus on your own body, mind, and spirit, and encourage your student to do so as well.  God cares more about our healthy souls than our report cards. If you model a healthy life, your student will be more likely to adopt one as well.

4.  Covenant to go to church together.  Then go out to lunch afterwards.  If that’s all the family time you have in a week, it will at least be quality time.

5.  Dream together. Plan family trips. Visit colleges. Take up fun hobbies.  Look to a future with hope! (Jeremiah 29:11)

 As I think about the challenges of today’s youth, I realize they are the challenges of today’s culture, placed in a pressure cooker.

Releasing some of that pressure makes for a healthier student.  And the truth is, we’re all students, aren’t we?

So as we begin another season of learning, here’s my wish for us:

I wish us less anxious days…

And far sweeter dreams.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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