Strategies to Combat End-of-the-School Year Stress

A parent comforting their child.

Stress much? If it’s the end of the school year, the answer is probably yes. For teens, it can become hard to juggle school obligations with social commitments. Even fun events like prom, sports, banquets and band and choir concerts can become overwhelming when combined with final exams, class projects and standardized tests.

“The end of the year means different things to different ages. High school can be stressful as is, let alone when the finish line comes into sight!” said Justin Fults, director of Student Services and Well-Being for Perrysburg Schools.

“The end of the year brings with it a variety of events that can also generate additional stress,” he said.

Parents may need to keep an eye on the calendar and find ways to help their teens manage the daily routine in a healthy way. Exercise, sleep and nutritious meals can be extra important at this time.

“Observe your child’s behavior and look for changes in their mood, physical health, eating habits, engagement in various activities. These might provide the right sort of clue that they need to decompress,” Fults said. 


Fults noted that the end of the year is also a time when students may have increased fears of missing out (FOMO). Decisions are made regarding admission into clubs and organizations like the National Honor Society. Social events, such as prom, provide a plethora of choices, from dates to dresses.

“There is always the question of ‘the dress’ that is sure to create some anxiety,” Fults said. “Prom can carry with it a fear of missing out, even if deciding to go with a date or group of friends.”


A portrait of a person smiling.

“For seniors, there is monumental pressure that can be self-imposed in making choices about their ‘next step’,” Fults said. “No one wants to make the ‘wrong choice’, even though the adults know that there really is not a ‘right choice’, only ‘right choosing’. No senior in high school is deciding their life’s work at 18. They need to keep their choices in proper perspective and maximize whatever opportunity they have in front of them.”

Making the grade

A photo of someone smiling.

“Students are often stressed at the end of the year about grades,” said Stacie Wachowiak, counselor at Sylvania Schools. “State testing is stressful and occurs at the end of the year, about a month before semester exams. So trying to juggle everything, in addition to having a social life and maintaining friendships can be overwhelming and stressful.”

While teens may be tempted to put off their obligations and assignments until the last minute, Wachowiak said that this only compounds the problem.

“Avoidance and procrastination are some of the worst things teens can do. Although it provides temporary relief in the present moment, it makes any anxiety or stress worse in the long run and leads to a cycle of avoidance until students reach a breaking point,” she said. 

“Time management is extremely important, and that includes scheduling down time and time off their devices. There is a significant amount of research to support this.”

Eat, sleep, repeat

Self care needs to be a priority to help alleviate the tension.

“Two of the biggest factors students have control over to help set them up to be at their best is sleep and what they eat. Without these two needs being met, students can’t problem solve and tackle daily things effectively,” she said.

“Very few teens get the appropriate amount of sleep. It is recommended that students get somewhere between eight and ten hours of sleep. This is often unrealistic due to their number of commitments, but trying to prioritize a consistent bedtime and wake up time is very helpful.”

Positive stress relievers can include: keeping a journal, exercising, spending time outdoors, meditating, limiting excess caffeine, limiting screen time and spending time with family and friends

Wachowiak encourages parents to be understanding of their teen’s feelings as the school year winds down to a close.

“Be open to talking about what they are going through and listening to them. Often parents, without knowing it, are dismissive of what teens are experiencing. They may be quick to say ‘everything is going to be fine’ or ‘there is nothing to worry about’,” she said.“Most often, our kids are simply looking for validation and a listening ear.”