By: karengray | August 19, 2019

It’s Back-to-School Time! Summer vacation is winding down, and parents and students are preparing for the return of schedules, studying, homework, tests, and extracurricular activities. Some kids are changing schools or going off to college, others are returning to a familiar environment with new teachers and new expectations.

We already know that any change can be stressful. School aged kids have an extra layer of stress just from being at the time in life where they are leaning their independence, finding their identity, and feeling the pressure to succeed. And while kids are filled with first-day excitement and jitters, parents may be wondering if they are prepared for the school year and the change in routine.

There are challenges, of course. But there are also tools and resources available to help better manage or even prevent them.

While everyone faces their own individual challenges, there are a few common themes when it comes to academic struggles. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common underlying causes of problems with academics, and even athletics, for students.


Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge. Stress can be good in the right amounts at the right times. When you’re faced with a challenge or a deadline, the right kind of stress can sharpen your mind and reflexes. It can help the body perform better, or help you escape a dangerous situation.

Stress is important for survival, but too much stress can be harmful. Emotional stress that lasts for weeks or months can weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart disease.

It might be difficult to tell if the stress you may be experiencing is good or bad, but there are ways that your body lets you know if you’re struggling with too much stress. These can be signs that it’s time to start doing something differently:

  • Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks

  • Getting sick more often 

  • Body aches

  • Flare ups of Autoimmune diseases 

  • Headaches

  • Irritability 

  • Trouble falling sleeping or staying awake

  • Changes in appetite

  • More angry or anxious than usual

School Stress

It’s not an official type of stress, but the type of stress experienced by children and adults in school have some unique qualities. Understanding these challenges can make it easier to make a plan to resolve them.


All kids, and even some adults, may struggle with concentration from time to time. Growing minds are already trying to pay attention to a lot of things, and that fractured attention can make it more difficult to retain information.

It’s important to know that not every student who has a hard time focusing in school has a learning issue such as ADD or ADHD. Concentration issues in children can be caused by a number of different reasons.

Giving students time and space to process changes can help them to adjust faster to school. Allow for a little extra time to get ready for school, to complete homework assignments, and anything else that requires their attention until they slide back into the academic routine.

Not Understanding the Material

What might look like a lack of concentration could actually be a lack of understanding the material. Not understanding their school assignments can lead to not paying attention and falling further behind.

Encourage your student to go to homework clubs and to ask for help and clarification when needed. Remind them that they are there to learn, and that their teachers are a resource for them.

Lack of Practice:

For some students, being in a new environment is enough to make things a bit more difficult. Even when kids return to the same school, the change in daily routine is enough to pull their attention away from learning and retaining new information. Study habits need to be rebuilt after long breaks from school.

Before the school year starts,  re-establish school routines. Get back into going to bed on time and getting up early. Set up a homework space and clarify the after school plan. Review the school materials and information so that you can all feel prepared knowing what to expect.

School Anxiety

Anxiety about school or grades can be another deeper issue that leads to difficulty in the classroom. Students who are overwhelmed or stressed by a subject might simply “check out.” This can lead to dropping grades and lowered self-confidence.

Breathing exercises, practiced daily, can help student to reduce the episodes of anxiety symptoms. You can email me for more information and techniques using abdominal breathing to reduce stress and anxiety.

Of course, you should always seek out professional advice any time you have a concern. If your kid is having severe problems in the classroom, such as constant disruptions, distractions, or poor grades, and you have ruled out other causes, it could be time to look into possible learning difficulties.

In some cases, these children may have learning difficulties such as ADD, ADHD, or Dyslexia. They may also have problems with hearing or vision. Each of these can be addressed with the help of their primary care provider, a tutor, and a learning plan, so your child can improve his or her focus and succeed in the classroom.

The Role of Hypnosis

Hypnosis helps people use their own skills, abilities, and resources more effectively to take back control of the parts of their lives that they felt were out of control before.

Hypnosis optimizes your mind and allows all the parts of you to work together to get you to where you want to be. “Content-free” hypnosis is a method of using self hypnosis without suggestions, to allow the mind to rest and recharge, giving us the focus, ability, clarity, and resources we need to accomplish almost any task.

There are many hypnotic techniques that are used outside of a formal hypnotic trance that quickly reduce anxiety and feelings of stress. Gentle pressure on the shoulder, a series of deep breaths, the use of an anchor or trigger that reminds us of a calm state are all ways that anxiety and stress can be reduced or eliminated in the moment.

Hypnosis can be used to change the way your brain cells interact with each other using neuroplasticity (the capacity of the nervous system to develop new neuronal connections)  to teach your body and mind to respond to stress by relaxing instead of feeling more stress. Hypnosis is also used to release whatever was blocking you from changing, and to create new habits, patterns, and behaviors that are more beneficial.

Some hypnotic techniques can be learned easily by doing a quick (and selective) internet search. Other methods are best learned from a professional.

Use this link to get a free 15 minute hypnosis audio for stress relief. 

Karen Gray is a Certified Professional Hypnotist, a Certified Hypnosis Instructor, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at, or (802) 566-0464.

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