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10 Tips to Reduce Homework Stress

relieve stress homework

It’s no secret that homework causes stress for many students.

Whether it’s a big test around the corner or an upcoming deadline for an assignment, sometimes it can be impossible to avoid homework stress.

From Grades one through twelve, homework is a big part of children’s education. But when homework causes frustration and leads to feeling overwhelmed, it can have a negative impact on your child’s ability to focus and retain information. It can also lead to procrastination.

Ultimately, this can all end in poor in-class performance and lower grades. Because of this, learning how to manage homework stress important.

The Effects Of Homework Stress On Students

The effects of too much homework can include higher levels of stress and frustration for students. This can lead to negative impacts on grades, social life, and health (both physical and mental).

Most parents know homework can become a regular struggle. But it doesn’t have to be the worst part of your child’s day. Both parents and students can benefit from learning how to deal with homework stress, and turn it into a positive learning experience.

How To Avoid Homework Stress

Here are 10 tips to help your child learn how to make homework less stressful.

1. Stick to a Schedule

Help your child plan out his or her time, scheduling time for homework, chores, activities, and sleep. Keep this schedule handy so your child knows what he or she should be working on, and when.

2. Practise Good Time Management

When it’s time to get to work on homework assignments, make sure your child is focused on the task at hand. Remove distractions like cell phones or television so your child can complete his or her homework and stay on schedule.

3. Get Started Early

Every day right after school, sit down with your child and go over homework assignments for each class. Help your child make a list of what should be completed that night and get started early. Waiting to get started until later in the evening means your child has less time (and energy) to complete his or her homework, leading to more stress for both of you.

4. Review your Agenda Regularly

Your child should have an agenda where he or she writes down all homework and assignments given by the teacher. Have your child review the agenda each day to make sure he or she knows what homework assignments need to be completed.

5. Stay Organized

An unorganized homework station can be distracting. Make sure space is kept neat and tidy and has all the supplies your child will need to complete his or her homework, including pencils, paper, and textbooks.

6. Ask the Teacher Questions

As much as parents would like to help their children with homework, the material taught in school has changed a lot over the years. If your child is struggling with homework, make a list of questions he or she can take to the teacher to get the help needed to understand the assignment.

7. Organize a Homework Group

Whether virtually or in-person, creating a homework group can help make homework less overwhelming by giving your child the chance to go over the material with his or her classmates. This gives kids the opportunity to better understand the material by teaching it to each other and working through any questions as a team.

8. Walk Away if it’s Overwhelming

If your child is getting frustrated or overwhelmed by a homework assignment or question, encourage him or her to take a break and come back to it. This will give your child a chance to relax and regroup so he or she can come back with a clear mind. Even while completing other tasks, your child’s brain will continue working on problems in the background.

9. Make Time to Relax

Set aside time for your child to do something that he or she enjoys, whether it’s an activity at home or an organized extracurricular activity. On top of helping your child get important exercise, it will also give him or her a break from homework stress and an outlet for any frustration or extra energy.

10. Get a Good Night’s Rest

Get your child into a regular sleep routine so he or she has a chance to recharge after the day. Children 6-13 years old should get 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night, while teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Getting the recommended amount of sleep will help make sure your child is ready to tackle another day of school and homework assignments.

Learn more about overcoming homework stress and everything else homework related.

No More Homework Stress

Learning how to handle homework stress will help your child get more out of homework assignments, while also helping him or her develop better learning habits. Using these tips, your child can learn to tackle homework with more confidence and less frustration.

If your child is still struggling with homework, our homework help tutors are here to help!

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10 Effective Tips on How to Reduce Homework Stress

relieve stress homework

Wondering how to reduce homework stress? You're not alone, as students of all ages and grades often grapple with this issue. 

female student doing math homework

The pressure to get good grades, finish homework on time, and keep up with different tasks can make you lose sleep, feel anxious, and even make you sick. This blog post is here to help you handle all that stress. 

We're going to explore ways to reduce homework stress, why taking notes can help, and answer some common questions about dealing with homework stress. So, let's get started on making schoolwork less stressful!

10 Ways to Deal With Homework Stress

Understanding how to deal with homework stress is key. Here are ten tried-and-true methods to help you cope effectively.

The first line of defense against homework stress is a well-thought-out plan. A homework schedule serves as your blueprint for academic success. It helps ensure that you're not cramming at the last minute and makes it easier to study . 

Use digital tools like Google Calendar or traditional planners to map out your study plan. The act of planning itself can alleviate stress by giving you a sense of control over your tasks.

1. Prioritize Tasks

Not all assignments are created equal. Some carry more weight in your grades, while others are crucial for mastering the subject matter. As a result, it’s important to prioritize these tasks to focus your energy where it counts the most. 

Use the Eisenhower Box technique to categorize tasks into urgent-important, important-not urgent, urgent-not important, and neither. This will help you allocate your time and resources more efficiently.

2. Take Short Breaks

It's a common misconception that working for extended periods without a break is a sign of dedication. In reality, it's a recipe for burnout. Short breaks can rejuvenate your mind, improving focus and productivity. 

Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique , which involves 25-minute work intervals followed by five-minute breaks, can be particularly effective.

3. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is not just good for your body; it's excellent for your mind too. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural stress relievers. Even a brisk 15-minute walk can significantly reduce stress and improve your mood. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine to keep stress at bay.

female student stretching, wearing workout clothing

4. Reach Out for Help

There's no shame in seeking assistance when you're grappling with a tough issue. Whether it's from a teacher, a peer, or an online educational platform, outside viewpoints can offer invaluable guidance. Overall, there are a ton of advantages of tutoring . 

In fact, our tutoring services specialize in providing personalized, one-on-one support to help you overcome academic challenges. By turning to our team of experts, you not only save time but also alleviate the stress that comes with feeling stuck.

5. Use Technology Wisely

In this digital age, technology can be a double-edged sword. While it can be a source of distraction, it can also be a valuable ally in your academic journey. 

Educational platforms, both apps and websites, provide a wide array of resources to aid your learning journey. For instance, you can find apps that help you solve complex math equations or websites that assist you in refining your grammar. While these tools can be incredibly beneficial, it's important to strike a balance and not become too dependent on them. 

For example, you might use a math app to understand the steps of solving a quadratic equation but try to practice solving some on your own afterward. Similarly, a grammar checker can help you identify errors in your writing, but you should also make an effort to understand the rules behind those corrections.

female student looking at phone while on laptop

6. Create a Study Environment

Your study environment plays a pivotal role in your academic performance. A clutter-free, quiet space can significantly enhance your focus and efficiency. Invest time in creating a study sanctuary equipped with all the supplies you'll need. This preparation can go a long way in reducing stress.

7. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep-breathing exercises, can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This heightened awareness makes it easier to control your stress levels. Even a few minutes of mindfulness practice can make a world of difference.

female student meditating in forest

8. Stay Organized

Being organized goes beyond just maintaining a clean study area; it also involves systematically managing your study materials. Utilize physical folders and binders or opt for digital solutions like note-taking apps to keep your notes, assignments, and resources well-arranged. 

For example, apps like Evernote and Microsoft OneNote can be excellent tools for getting organized. They allow you to create different notebooks for various subjects, attach files, and even collaborate with others. Having a well-organized system helps you locate what you need effortlessly, saving you time and reducing stress.

9. Learn From Your Mistakes

Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. They signal areas where you might need more practice or a different approach. Instead of getting frustrated, take a moment to understand why you made a mistake. Was it a lack of understanding, a misinterpretation, or simply a slip-up? 

Once you identify the root cause, you can work on strengthening that particular skill or concept. Over time, you'll notice that your homework becomes less stressful because you're not just completing it; you're also learning from it. So, don't fear mistakes – embrace them as your homework allies.

10. Reward Yourself

Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator. Treat yourself to small rewards after completing challenging tasks or reaching milestones. Whether it's a favorite snack, a short gaming session, or a walk in the park, these rewards can make the study process less daunting.

Why Are Note-Taking Techniques Important?

female student sitting in bed taking notes from computer

Note-taking is often misunderstood as a mere transcription activity where students jot down whatever the teacher is saying. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. Effective note-taking is an intricate skill that serves multiple functions, from aiding in comprehension to serving as a reliable study aid for future exams. 

It's not just about capturing information; it's about processing that information in a way that makes it easier to understand, remember, and apply.

The Science Behind Effective Note-Taking

When you engage in effective note-taking, you're actually participating in "active learning." This means you're not just passively absorbing information but actively processing it. This active engagement triggers cognitive functions that help in better retention and understanding. 

According to research , students who take notes perform better in exams compared to those who don't. The act of writing or typing out notes forces you to think critically about the material, thereby enhancing your understanding and ability to recall it later.

FAQs: How to Reduce Homework Stress

Discover practical tips and strategies to ease the burden of homework and make your academic journey less stressful.

1. How Can I Relieve Stress From Homework?

Stress relief comes in many forms. Techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and even short physical exercises can help. Consider incorporating these into your study routine.

2. What Causes Homework Stress?

Homework stress can arise from various factors, including tight deadlines, high academic expectations, and a lack of understanding of the subject matter. Identifying the root cause can help you address it more effectively.

3. How Can I Help My Child With Homework Anxiety?

Supporting your child emotionally is crucial. Create a conducive study environment, establish a regular study routine, and consider seeking professional help like tutors or counselors if the anxiety persists.

Final Thoughts

Homework stress may seem like a hurdle, but it's one you can clear. Learning how to reduce homework stress is essential. With the right approaches and a positive mindset, you can not only handle this stress but also excel in your studies. 

Keep in mind that achieving academic success is more of a long-term race than a quick dash. By arming yourself with these proven strategies, you can make your educational journey much less stressful.

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  • EXPLORE Random Article

How to Avoid Homework Stress

Last Updated: March 28, 2019 References

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 133,057 times.

Students of all kinds are often faced with what can seem like an overwhelming amount of homework. Although homework can be a source of stress, completing it can be a very rewarding and even relaxing experience if done in an organized and timely manner. Remember, homework is not intended as punishment, but is used to reinforce everything you’ve learned in class. Try to view it as a chance to sharpen your skills and understanding.

Managing Your Time

Step 1 Pick a time of day to do your homework.

  • Try to work earlier, rather than later, if possible. This way, you won’t be rushing to finish your work before bedtime.
  • Find a time of day during which you can concentrate well. Some people work best in the afternoon, while others can concentrate better on a full stomach after dinner.
  • Choose a time when you will have relatively few distractions. Mealtimes, times during which you have standing engagements, or periods usually used for socializing are not the best choices.
  • Allow enough time to complete your work. Making sure the total time you allow yourself for homework is sufficient for you to complete all your assignments is crucial. [1] X Research source [2] X Research source

Step 2 Start large projects as early as possible.

  • Save an appropriate amount of time for projects considering your normal homework load.
  • Estimate how much time you will need each day, week, and month depending on your usual workload. Allow yourself at least this much time in your schedule, and consider allotting a fair amount more to compensate for unexpected complications or additional assignments.
  • Reserve plenty of time for bigger projects, as they are more involved, and it is harder to estimate how much time you might need to complete them.

Step 3 Make yourself a homework schedule.

  • Get a day planner or a notebook to write down your homework assignments, and assign an estimated amount of time to each assignment. Make sure to always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need.
  • Plan to finish daily homework every day, then divide up weekly homework over the course of the entire week.
  • Rank assignments in due-date order. Begin on those assignments due first, and work your way though. Finishing assignments according to due-date will help you avoid having to hurry through homework the night before it must be handed in.
  • Allow more time for more difficult subjects and difficult assignments. Each individual person will have their strong subjects—and those that come a little harder. Make sure you take into account which subjects are harder for you, and allow more time for them during your scheduling.

Working Hard at School and in Class

Step 1 Ask questions.

  • If you’re too shy to ask questions, or don’t feel it’s appropriate to do so during class, write them down in your notebook and then ask the teacher or professor after class.
  • If you don't understand a concept, ask your teacher to explain it again, with specifics.
  • If you're having trouble with a math problem, ask the teacher to demonstrate it again using a different example.
  • Remember, when it comes to learning and education, there are no bad questions.

Step 2 Take good notes...

  • Pay attention to important terms and ideas. Make sure to note things your teacher stresses, key terms, and other important concepts.
  • Write clearly and legibly. If you can’t read your handwriting, it’ll take you longer to reference your notes at home.
  • Keep your notebook organized with dividers and labels. This way, you’ll be able to locate helpful information in a pinch and finish your homework quicker. [4] X Research source

Step 3 Record the class or lecture.

  • Get permission.
  • Sit up front and close to the instructor.
  • Make sure to label your recordings so you don't lose track of them.
  • Try to listen to them that same day while everything is fresh in your mind.

Step 4 Use any available time at school to begin your homework.

  • Work in class. If you finish a class assignment early, review your notes or start your homework.
  • Study at lunch. If you have time at lunch, consider working on homework. You can do this leisurely by just reviewing what you’ll need to do at home, or you can just jump right into your work.
  • Don't waste time. If you get to class early, use that time for homework. In addition, many schools let students go to the library during this unplanned time, and it's a great place to finish uncompleted assignments.

Doing Your Homework

Step 1 Sit down and do your homework.

  • Get some fresh air
  • Go for a short run
  • Do push-ups
  • Walk your dog
  • Listen to music
  • Have a snack

Step 5 Stay positive.

  • Study groups break up the monotony of daily homework and make for a less stressful experience than trying to cram on your own.
  • Note that each person should turn in individualized assignments rather than collaborating to find the answers.

Balancing Homework with Life

Step 1 Avoid over committing yourself.

  • AP or IB classes often have 2 or 3 times the amount of reading and homework as regular courses.
  • Honors classes may have up to double the amount of work required as regular courses.
  • College students need to consider whether they want to take the recommended course load (often 4 classes) or more. More classes might help you finish your degree sooner, but if you are juggling work and extracurricular activities, you might be overwhelmed. [8] X Research source [9] X Research source

Step 2 Decide your priorities.

  • Rank your classes and activities in order of importance.
  • Estimate (realistically) how long your academic and extracurricular activities will take.
  • Figure out how much time you have overall.
  • If you’ve over committed, you need to drop your lowest ranked class or activity.

Step 3 Reserve time for your family and friends.

  • Make sure to reserve mealtimes for family, rather than working.
  • Try to set aside the weekend for family, and work only if you need to catch up or get ahead.
  • Don’t plan on working on holidays, even if you try, your productivity likely won’t be high.

Step 4 Make sure you get enough rest.

  • Pick a reasonable hour to go to sleep every night.
  • Try to do your morning prep work like ironing clothes and making your lunch at night.
  • Take a nap after school or after classes if you need. You’ll probably be able to do better work in less time if you are rested. [10] X Research source [11] X Research source
  • If you’re in middle or high school, talk to your parents and your teachers about the issue and ask them to help you figure out a solution.
  • If you’re a college student, reach out to your professors and advisor for help.
  • If it takes you much longer to finish your homework than it takes other students, it may be due to a learning difference. Ask your parents to schedule a meeting with a learning specialist.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Ask for help when you need it. This is the biggest thing you should do. Don't worry if people think you're dumb, because chances are, you're making a higher grade than them. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 4
  • Actually pay attention to the teacher and ask if you don't know how to do the work. The stress can go away if you know exactly what to do. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 2
  • Recognize that some teachers get mad if you do separate homework assignments for different classes, so learn to be discreet about it. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/coping-school-stress
  • ↑ http://www.kidzworld.com/article/24574-how-to-avoid-homework-stress
  • ↑ http://www.dartmouth.edu/~acskills/success/notes.html
  • ↑ https://stressfreekids.com/10038/homework-stress
  • ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-jackson/5-ways-to-relieve-homework-stress-in-5-minutes_b_6572786.html
  • ↑ https://stressfreekids.com/11607/reduce-homework-stress
  • ↑ https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/how-students-can-survive-the-ap-course-workload/2012/03/01/gIQA8u28qR_story.html
  • ↑ http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2012/05/10/weigh-the-benefits-stress-of-ap-courses-for-your-student
  • ↑ http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/sleep-in-adolescents
  • ↑ https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=how+much+sleep+do+20+year+old+need

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Feeling overwhelmed by your nightly homework grind? You’re not alone. Our Student Life in America survey results show that teens spend a third of their study time feeling worried, stressed, or stuck. If you’re spending close to four hours a night on your homework (the national average), that’s over an hour spent spent feeling panicky and still not getting your work done. Homework anxiety can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you’re already convinced that calculus is unconquerable, that anxiety can actually block your ability to learn the material.

Managing Homework Stress

Whether your anxiety is related to handling your workload (we know you’re getting more homework than ever!), mastering a particular subject like statistics, or getting great grades for your college application, stress doesn’t have to go hand-in-hand with studying .

In fact, a study by Stanford University School of Medicine and published in The Journal of Neuroscience shows that a student’s fear of math (and, yes, this fear is completely real and can be detectable in scans of the brain) can be eased by a one-on-one math tutoring program. At The Princeton Review this wasn’t news to us! Our online tutors are on-call 24/7 for students working on everything from AP Chemistry to Pre-Calc. Here’s a roundup of what our students have to say about managing homework stress by working one-one-one with our expert tutors .

1. Work the Best Way for YOU

From the way you decorate your room to the way you like to study, you have a style all your own:

"I cannot thank Christopher enough! I felt so anxious and stressed trying to work on my personal statement, and he made every effort to help me realize my strengths and focus on writing in a way that honored my personality. I wanted to give up, but he was patient with me and it made the difference."
"[My] tutor was 1000000000000% great . . . He made me feel important and fixed all of my mistakes and adapted to my learning style . . . I have so much confidence for my midterms that I was so stressed out about."
"I liked how the tutor asked me how was I starting the problem and allowed me to share what I was doing and what I had. The tutor was able to guide me from there and break down the steps and I got the answer all on my own and the tutor double checked it... saved me from tears and stress."

2. Study Smarter, Not Harder

If you’ve read the chapter in your history textbook twice and aren’t retaining the material, don’t assume the third time will be the charm. Our tutors will help you break the pattern, and learn ways to study more efficiently:

"[My] tutor has given me an easier, less stressful way of seeing math problems. It is like my eyes have opened up."
"I was so lost in this part of math but within minutes the tutor had me at ease and I get it now. I wasn't even with her maybe 30 minutes or so, and she helped me figure out what I have been stressing over for the past almost two days."
"I can not stress how helpful it is to have a live tutor available. Math was never and still isn't my favorite subject, but I know I need to take it. Being able to talk to someone and have them walk you through the steps on how to solve a problem is a huge weight lifted off of my shoulder."

3. Get Help in a Pinch

Because sometimes you need a hand RIGHT NOW:

"I was lost and stressed because I have a test tomorrow and did not understand the problems. I fully get it now!"
"My tutor was great. I was freaking out and stressed out about the entire assignment, but she really helped me to pull it together. I am excited to turn my paper in tomorrow."
"This was so helpful to have a live person to validate my understanding of the formulas I need to use before actually submitting my homework and getting it incorrect. My stress level reduced greatly with a project deadline due date."

4. Benefit from a Calming Presence

From PhDs and Ivy Leaguers to doctors and teachers, our tutors are experts in their fields, and they know how to keep your anxiety at bay:

"I really like that the tutors are real people and some of them help lighten the stress by making jokes or having quirky/witty things to say. That helps when you think you're messing up! Gives you a reprieve from your brain jumbling everything together!"
"He seemed understanding and empathetic to my situation. That means a lot to a new student who is under stress."
"She was very thorough in explaining her suggestions as well as asking questions and leaving the changes up to me, which I really appreciated. She was very encouraging and motivating which helped with keeping me positive about my paper and knowing that I am not alone in my struggles. She definitely eased my worries and stress. She was wonderful!"

5. Practice Makes Perfect

The Stanford study shows that repeated exposure to math problems through one-on-one tutoring helped students relieve their math anxiety (the authors’ analogy was how a fear of spiders can be treated with repeated exposure to spiders in a safe environment). Find a tutor you love, and come back to keep practicing:

"Love this site once again. It’s so helpful and this is the first time in years when I don’t stress about my frustration with HW because I know this site will always be here to help me."
"I've been using this service since I was in seventh grade and now I am a Freshman in High School. School has just started and I am already using this site again! :) This site is so dependable. I love it so much and it’s a lot easier than having an actual teacher sitting there hovering over you, waiting for you to finish the problem."
"I can always rely on this site to help me when I'm confused, and it always makes me feel more confident in the work I'm doing in school."

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Mastering the Art of Homework: Expert Tips for a Stress-Free Study Session

2023-05-09 | By Orcam Staff

From Frustration to Focus: How to Make Homework Less Stressful

As students, parents, and teachers alike can attest, homework is a ubiquitous feature of modern education. But as much as homework is a fact of life for many students, the question of whether it causes stress remains a hotly debated topic. The importance of this topic cannot be overstated, as research has consistently shown that homework-related stress can have negative impacts on student mental health, academic performance, and overall well-being. 

In this article, we will explore the underlying causes of homework-related stress, its effects on students, and evidence-based strategies to alleviate homework-related stress and improve student well-being. By the end of this article, readers will have a clearer understanding of the issue at hand and practical tools to help manage the stress that homework can sometimes bring.

Homework is a common aspect of education that can cause stress for many students, parents, and teachers. The question of whether homework causes stress is a controversial topic. However, it is crucial to address this issue as research has consistently shown that homework-related stress can negatively impact students' mental health, academic performance, and overall well-being. One effective solution to alleviate homework-related stress is to learn how to make homework less frustrating. 

This article aims to explore the underlying causes of homework-related stress, its effects on students, and evidence-based strategies to improve student well-being. By the end of this article, readers will have gained a better understanding of the issue and practical tools to manage the stress that homework can bring.

Homework and Stress: Understanding the Causes and Effects

Homework policies: a contributing factor to student stress.

Homework can be a significant source of stress for students, leading to a range of negative effects on their mental health, academic performance, and overall well-being. Research has shown that homework policies that assign excessive amounts of homework or place unrealistic expectations on students can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress.

Study Habits: The Key to Managing Homework-Related Stress

Some of the key causes of homework-related stress include academic pressure, lack of effective time management skills, and poor study habits. When students feel overwhelmed by their workload, it can lead to anxiety and feelings of being unable to cope. This can ultimately impact their academic performance and overall well-being.

Negative Impact of Academic Pressure on Student Mental Health and Well-Being

It's important to recognize that homework itself is not inherently stressful. Rather, it is the amount and type of homework assigned, as well as the expectations placed on students, that can contribute to stress. By implementing effective homework alternatives and strategies, such as project-based learning or flipped classrooms, educators can help alleviate homework-related stress and improve student engagement and performance.

Time Management: A Crucial Skill to Alleviate Homework Stress

To reduce homework stress, students can try to implement effective time management techniques, such as breaking down assignments into manageable tasks and creating a study schedule that prioritizes important assignments. They can also explore homework alternatives, such as online resources and study groups, that can help them better understand the material and complete their assignments more efficiently.

Overall, by understanding the causes and effects of homework-related stress, students, parents, and educators can work together to create a more supportive and less stressful learning environment.

Many students know all too well the feelings of anxiety, frustration, and even hopelessness that can come with excessive homework. But why exactly does homework cause stress? The answer lies in a number of factors, from the policies governing homework to the individual habits and well-being of each student.

The link between homework policies and student stress

One major source of homework-related stress is the policies and expectations surrounding homework. While homework is meant to help reinforce learning and promote academic success, too much homework or overly strict homework policies can lead to anxiety and burnout. When students feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of homework, they may experience anxiety or even feelings of helplessness, leading to a vicious cycle of stress and poor academic performance.

The Role of study habits in Managing homework-related stress

But homework-related stress is not solely the result of external factors. Study habits and time management can play a significant role in how students experience homework-related stress. Students who struggle with effective study habits or who have difficulty managing their time may find themselves feeling overwhelmed by homework and unable to cope with the associated stress.

The Impact of academic pressure on student mental health and Well-being

Academic pressure is also a major contributor to homework-related stress. Whether from parents, teachers, or self-imposed expectations, students may feel intense pressure to perform well academically. This pressure can lead to a range of negative consequences, from burnout to anxiety and depression.

The relationship between homework, time management, and student stress

So, does homework cause anxiety or stress? The answer is yes, and the effects can be significant. When students experience high levels of stress related to homework, they may struggle to concentrate, retain information, and perform well academically. Over time, this can take a toll on their mental health and well-being.

In the next section, we will explore evidence-based strategies for managing homework-related stress, including homework alternatives and techniques for reducing anxiety and improving time management. By implementing these strategies, students can reduce the impact of homework-related stress on their lives and enjoy greater academic success and overall well-being.

The Psychology of Homework and Stress

Homework is a complex issue that goes beyond just completing assignments. The psychological impact of homework on students cannot be ignored. In this section, we will explore the educational psychology theories related to homework and stress.

Overview of Educational Psychology Theories Related to Homework and Stress a. Self-Determination Theory b. Control-Value Theory c. Cognitive Load Theory

Impact of Homework on Student Motivation and Engagement a. How homework can positively or negatively impact student motivation b. How different types of homework assignments affect student engagement

Homework Anxiety and Its Effects on Student Mental Health and Academic Performance a. How homework anxiety can lead to stress and negatively affect student mental health b. The relationship between homework anxiety and academic performance

Alleviate Homework-Related Stress and Improve Student Well-being

Strategies to Alleviate Homework-Related Stress and Improve Student Well-being

After discussing the underlying causes and effects of homework-related stress, it's important to explore strategies that can help alleviate stress and promote student well-being. Here are some evidence-based strategies:

Alternatives to Traditional Homework Assignments

While homework has long been a staple of the education system, it may not always be the most effective way for students to learn. Here are some alternatives to traditional homework assignments:

Project-Based Learning: 

Instead of assigning daily homework, teachers can assign longer-term projects that allow students to explore a topic in-depth and demonstrate their understanding in creative ways.

Collaborative Learning: 

Group assignments can help students learn from one another and work together to achieve a common goal.

Flipped Classroom: 

In this approach, students watch lectures or read materials at home and use class time to work on assignments or projects, allowing for more individualized support from the teacher.

Time-Management Strategies to Reduce Homework-Related Stress

Effective time management can help students better balance their academic workload and reduce homework-related stress. Here are some strategies students can use:

Prioritize Tasks: 

Help students prioritize tasks by breaking down large assignments into smaller tasks and prioritizing tasks based on deadlines and importance.

Use a Planner: 

Encourage students to use a planner to keep track of assignments, deadlines, and extracurricular activities.

Take Breaks: 

Encourage students to take breaks and engage in physical activity or other hobbies to help reduce stress and increase focus.

Tips for Students on How to Make School Less Stressful

In addition to effective time management, there are other strategies students can use to make school less stressful:

Practice Mindfulness: 

Encourage students to practice mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing or meditation to help reduce stress and increase focus.

Get Enough Sleep: 

Getting enough sleep is crucial for student well-being and academic success. Encourage students to prioritize a consistent sleep schedule.

Seek Support: 

Encourage students to seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals if they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Strategies for Parents and Teachers to Support Students' Well-being and Academic Success

Parents and teachers can play a crucial role in supporting student well-being and academic success. Here are some strategies they can use:

Communicate: 

Encourage open communication between parents, teachers, and students to ensure everyone is aware of expectations and concerns.

Prioritize Playtime: 

Encourage parents to prioritize playtime and physical activity outside of school hours to help reduce stress and promote well-being.

Provide Support: 

Teachers can provide additional support to students who are struggling with homework by offering extra help sessions or alternative assignments.

By implementing these strategies, we can work towards reducing homework-related stress and promoting student well-being and academic success.

In conclusion, this article has explored the underlying causes and effects of homework-related stress on students, as well as evidence-based strategies to alleviate this stress and improve student well-being. It has been established that homework policies, study habits, academic pressure, and time management all play a significant role in contributing to homework-related stress. Moreover, it has been highlighted that homework-related stress can have a negative impact on student mental health, academic performance, and overall well-being.

To alleviate this stress and promote student well-being, there are various strategies that can be employed, such as alternatives to traditional homework assignments, time-management strategies, and tips for making school less stressful. Additionally, parents and teachers can play an important role in supporting students' well-being and academic success.

In conclusion, it is important for students, parents, and teachers to prioritize student well-being and to seek out additional resources on this topic. By taking steps to reduce homework-related stress, we can help ensure that students are better able to thrive academically, mentally, and emotionally.

Key Takeaways:

Homework can cause stress in students, which can negatively impact their mental health and academic performance.

Homework-related stress can stem from a variety of factors, including academic pressure, time management, and ineffective homework policies.

Alternatives to traditional homework assignments and time-management strategies can help reduce homework-related stress.

It's important for parents and teachers to prioritize student well-being and to seek out additional resources to support students in managing homework-related stress. 

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relieve stress homework

How to Reduce Homework Stress

If homework is a source of frustration and stress in your home, it doesn’t have to be that way! Read on to learn effective strategies to reduce your child’s homework stress.

Katie Wickliff headshot

Author Katie Wickliff

relieve stress homework

Published March 2024

relieve stress homework

 If homework is a source of frustration and stress in your home, it doesn’t have to be that way! Read on to learn effective strategies to reduce your child’s homework stress.

  • Key takeaways
  • Homework stress can be a significant problem for children and their families
  • An appropriate amount of quality homework can be beneficial for students
  • Parents can help reduce homework stress in several key ways

Table of contents

  • Homework stress effects
  • How to reduce homework stress

As a parent who has felt the frustration of watching my child be reduced to tears because of her homework each night, I’ve often wondered: do these math worksheets and reading trackers really make a difference to a child’s academic success? Or does homework cause stress without having a positive impact on learning? 

If your child experiences a significant amount of homework stress, you may feel at a loss to help. However, there are several things you can do at home to minimize the negative effects of this stress on your child–and you! We’ve put together a list of research-based practices that can help your child better handle their homework load.

The Effects of Homework Stress on Students

Does homework cause stress? Short answer: Yes. It’s been well documented that too much homework can cause stress and anxiety for students–and their parents. However, do the benefits of homework outweigh the costs? Is homework “worth” the frustration and exhaustion that our children experience? 

Findings on the benefits of homework at the elementary school level are mixed, with studies showing that homework appears to have more positive effects under certain conditions for certain groups of students.

After examining decades of studies on the relationship between homework and academic achievement, leading homework researcher Harris M. Cooper has proposed the “10-minute rule,” suggesting that homework be limited to 10 minutes per grade level. For example, children in 3rd grade should do no more than 30 minutes of homework daily, while a 1st grader should do no more than 10 minutes of homework. The National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association both endorse this guideline as a general rule of thumb. 

Because of these research findings, Doodle believes that an appropriate amount of quality homework can help students feel more positive about learning and can provide parents with a critical connection to their child’s school experience . But to keep learning positive, we need to reduce the amount of stress both students and parents feel about homework.

1. Routine, Routine, Routine

Creating an after-school routine and sticking to it helps children feel organized, but with sports, tutoring, or music lessons, many children have varying weekday schedules. As a former classroom teacher and private tutor, I suggest that families post a weekly schedule somewhere visible and communicate that schedule with their child. 

At our house, we have a dry-erase calendar posted on the wall. Every Sunday evening, I write both of my children’s schedules for the following week–including homework time. We go through the calendar together, and they reference it often throughout the week. I can tell both my son and daughter feel better when they know when they’ll get their homework done.

2. Create a Homework Space

Ideally, your child should have a dedicated homework space. It doesn’t matter if that space is a desk, a dining room table, or a kitchen countertop. What does matter is that the homework area is tidy, because an unorganized homework area is very distracting.

3. Start Homework Early

Encourage your child to start their homework as early as possible. Help them review their assignments, make a plan for what needs to be completed, and then dive in. Naturally, children are more tired later in the evening which can lead to more stress.

4. Encourage Breaks

If you can see your child becoming frustrated or overwhelmed by their homework, encourage them to take a breather and come back to it later. As a teacher and tutor, I called this a “brain break” and believe these breaks are essential. Taking a short break will give your child a chance to step away from a frustrating problem or assignment.

5. It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Sometimes, homework can become just too stressful and overwhelming. In that case, it really is okay to stop. Children can learn to advocate for themselves by making a list of questions for their teacher and asking for help the next day. Depending on their age, you might need to help role-play how to approach their teacher with their frustrations. 

Additionally, parents should never feel afraid to contact their child’s teacher to talk about homework issues. When I was teaching elementary school, I always wanted parents to feel comfortable reaching out about any issues, including homework stress.

6. Get Plenty of Rest

Sleep is critical to a child’s overall wellbeing , which includes their academic performance. Tired kids can’t concentrate as well, which can lead to feeling more overwhelmed about homework assignments. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, kids aged 6-12 should get at least 9 hours of sleep each night.

7. Consider a Homework Group

Organizing a homework group a few times a week is another way for your child to view homework more positively. Working as a group encourages collaboration, while discussions can solidify concepts learned in class.

8. Encourage Positivity

No matter what your school experience was like, it’s important to model a growth mindset for your child. A growth mindset is the belief that your abilities can develop and improve over time. So if your child says something like “ I can’t do this! ” first acknowledge their frustration. Then, encourage them to say, “ I may not understand this yet, but I will figure it out. ” Speaking positively about tough experiences takes practice, but it will go a long way in reducing homework stress for your child.

9. Develop Skills With Fun Games

Feeling stressed about homework is no fun. Completing worksheets and memorizing facts is necessary, but playing games is a great way to inject some excitement into learning. Doodle’s interactive math app is filled with interactive exercises, engaging math games, and unique rewards that help kids develop their skills while having fun.

Lower Math Anxiety with DoodleMath

Does your child struggle with math anxiety? DoodleMath is an award-winning math app f illed with fun, interactive math questions aligned to state standards. Doodle creates a unique work program tailored to each child’s skill level to boost confidence and reduce math anxiety. Try it free  today!

for families

FAQs About Homework Stress

relieve stress homework

Many studies have shown that homework and stress often go hand-in-hand, often because many children feel pressure to perform perfectly or they have trouble managing their emotions–they get overwhelmed or flooded easily.

You can help your child reduce homework stress in several ways, including by establishing a routine, creating a homework space, encouraging breaks, and making homework fun with online games or math apps.

relieve stress homework

Lesson credits

Katie Wickliff headshot

Katie Wickliff

Katie holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in both Journalism and English from The University of Iowa. She has over 15 years of education experience as a K-12 classroom teacher and Orton-Gillingham certified tutor. Most importantly, Katie is the mother of two elementary students, ages 8 and 11. She is passionate about math education and firmly believes that the right tools and support will help every student reach their full potential.

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The University of Texas at Austin

August 23, 2022 , Filed Under: Uncategorized

How to Manage Homework-Related Stress

Ask students what causes them the most stress, and the conversation will likely turn to homework. Students have complained about homework for practically as long as it has existed. While some dismiss these complaints as students’ laziness or lack of organization, there’s more to it than that. Many students face a lot of pressure to succeed in school, sports, work, and other areas. Also, more teens and young adults are dealing with mental health problems, with up to 40% of college students reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety.  

Researchers and professionals debate over whether homework does more harm than good, but at least for now, homework is an integral part of education. How do students deal with heavy homework loads? It’s become common for overwhelmed students to use an essay service to help them complete their assigned tasks. Pulling all-nighters to finish assignments and study for tests is another strategy busy college students use, for better or worse. 

If you’re a student that’s struggling to get all your homework done, make sure to take care of your mental health. School is important, but your health is more important. Try the following tips to help you stay on top of your busy schedule.

Make a Schedule

Time management is an important skill, but you can’t learn it without effort. The first step to managing your time more effectively is to make a schedule and stick to it. Use a calendar, planner, or an app to write down everything you need to get done. Set reminders for due dates and set aside time each day for studying. Don’t leave assignments for the last minute. Plan to finish your work well ahead of the due date in case something unexpected happens and you need more time. Make sure your schedule is realistic. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete each task. And schedule time for hobbies and social activities too. 

Find a Study Spot

Doing homework in a dedicated workspace can boost your productivity. Studying in bed could make you fall asleep, and doing homework in a crowded, noisy place can be distracting. You want to complete as much work as possible during your study sessions, so choose a place that’s free of distractions. Make sure you have everything you need within arm’s reach. Resist the temptation to check your notifications or social media feeds while you study. Put your phone in airplane mode if necessary so it doesn’t distract you. You don’t need a private office to study efficiently, but having a quiet, distraction-free place to do your homework can help you to get more done.

Get Enough Rest

An all-nighter every once in a while probably won’t do you any lasting harm. But a consistent lack of sleep is bad for your productivity and your health. Most young people need at least 7 hours of sleep every night, so make it your goal to go to bed on time. You’ll feel better throughout the day, have more energy, and improve your focus. Instead of dozing off while you’re doing homework, you’ll be more alert and productive if you get enough sleep. 

It’s also important to spend time relaxing and enjoying your favorite activities. Hang out with friends, take a walk, or watch a movie. You’ll feel less stressed if you take some time for yourself.

Don’t Shoot for Perfection

It’s tempting to try to get a perfect grade on every test or assignment. But perfectionism only causes unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you consider yourself a perfectionist, you might spend too much time on less important tasks. Prioritize your assignments and put more time and effort into the most important ones. 

Most people struggle with perfectionism because they’ve been taught they should do their best at everything. But you don’t have to go above and beyond for every assignment. That’s not to say you should turn in bad work. But putting in just enough effort to get by isn’t a bad thing. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be the best at everything. Focus on your most important assignments, and don’t spend too much time and effort perfecting the others. 

Almost all students deal with the burden of homework-related stress. No one enjoys the anxiety of having a lot of assignments due and not enough time to complete them. But take advantage of this opportunity to learn organization and self-discipline, which will help you throughout your life. Try making a schedule and don’t forget to set aside time to rest. When it’s time to study, choose a quiet place where you can concentrate. Don’t neglect your health; if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, talk to a counselor or your doctor. School stress is hard to avoid, but if you take these steps you can reduce homework anxiety and have better control of your time. 

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The Truth About Homework Stress: What Parents & Students Need to Know

  • Fact Checked

Written by:

published on:

  • December 21, 2023

Updated on:

  • January 9, 2024

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Homework is generally given out to ensure that students take time to review and remember the days lessons. It can help improve on a student’s general performance and enhance traits like self-discipline and independent problem solving.

Parents are able to see what their children are doing in school, while also helping teachers determine how well the lesson material is being learned. Homework is quite beneficial when used the right way and can improve student  performance.

This well intentioned practice can turn sour if it’s not handled the right way. Studies show that if a student is inundated with too much homework, not only do they get lower scores, but they are more likely to get stressed.

The age at which homework stress is affecting students is getting lower, some even as low as kindergarten. Makes you wonder what could a five year old possibly need to review as homework?

One of the speculated reasons for this stress is that the complexity of what a student is expected to learn is increasing, while the breaks for working out excess energy are reduced. Students are getting significantly more homework than recommended by the education leaders, some even nearly three times more.

To make matters worse, teachers may give homework that is both time consuming and will keep students busy while being totally non-productive.

Remedial work like telling students to copy notes word for word from their text books will  do nothing to improve their grades or help them progress. It just adds unnecessary stress.

Explore emotional well-being with BetterHelp – your partner in affordable online therapy. With 30,000+ licensed therapists and plans starting from only $65 per week, BetterHelp makes self-care accessible to all. Complete the questionnaire to match with the right therapist.

Effects of homework stress at home

Both parents and students tend to get stressed out at the beginning of a new school year due to the impending arrival of homework.

Nightly battles centered on finishing assignments are a household routine in houses with students.

Research has found that too much homework can negatively affect children. In creating a lack of balance between play time and time spent doing homework, a child can get headaches, sleep deprivation or even ulcers.

And homework stress doesn’t just impact grade schoolers. College students are also affected, and the stress is affecting their academic performance.

Even the parent’s confidence in their abilities to help their children with homework suffers due increasing stress levels in the household.

Fights and conflict over homework are more likely in families where parents do not have at least a college degree. When the child needs assistance, they have to turn to their older siblings who might already be bombarded with their own homework.

Parents who have a college degree feel more confident in approaching the school and discussing the appropriate amount of school work.

“It seems that homework being assigned discriminates against parents who don’t have college degree, parents who have English as their second language and against parents who are poor.” Said Stephanie Donaldson Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

With all the stress associated with homework, it’s not surprising that some parents have opted not to let their children do homework. Parents that have instituted a no-homework policy have stated that it has taken a lot of the stress out of their evenings.

The recommended amount homework

The standard endorsed by the National Education Association is called the “10 minute rule”; 10 minutes per grade level per night. This recommendation was made after a number of studies were done on the effects of too much homework on families.

The 10 minute rule basically means 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minute for the second grade all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year in high school. Note that no homework is endorsed in classes under the first grade.

Parents reported first graders were spending around half an hour on homework each night, and kindergarteners spent 25 minutes a night on assignments according to a study carried out by Brown University.

Making a five year old sit still for half an hour is very difficult as they are at the age where they just want to move around and play.

A child who is exposed to 4-5 hours of homework after school is less likely to find the time to go out and play with their friends, which leads to accumulation of stress energy in the body.

Their social life also suffers because between the time spent at school and doing homework, a child will hardly have the time to pursue hobbies. They may also develop a negative attitude towards learning.

The research highlighted that 56% of students consider homework a primary source of stress.

And if you’re curious how the U.S stacks up against other countries in regards to how much time children spend on homework, it’s pretty high on the list .

Signs to look out for on a student that has homework stress

Since not every student is affected by homework stress in the same way, it’s important to be aware of some of the signs your child might be mentally drained from too much homework.

Here are some common signs of homework stress:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Frequent stomachaches and headaches
  • Decreased appetite or changed eating habits
  • New or recurring fears
  • Not able to relax
  • Regressing to behavior they had when younger
  • Bursts of anger crying or whining
  • Becoming withdrawn while others may become clingy
  • Drastic changes in academic performance
  • Having trouble concentrating or completing homework
  • Constantly complains about their ability to do homework

If you’re a parent and notice any of these signs in your child, step in to find out what’s going on and if homework is the source of their stress.

If you’re a student, pay attention if you start experiencing any of these symptoms as a result of your homework load. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or parents for help if the stress of homework becomes too much for you.

What parents do wrong when it comes to homework stress

Most parents push their children to do more and be more, without considering the damage being done by this kind of pressure.

Some think that homework brought home is always something the children can deal with on their own. If the child cannot handle their homework then these parents get angry and make the child feel stupid.

This may lead to more arguing and increased dislike of homework in the household. Ultimately the child develops an even worse attitude towards homework.

Another common mistake parents make is never questioning the amount of homework their children get, or how much time they spend on it. It’s easy to just assume whatever the teacher assigned is adequate, but as we mentioned earlier, that’s not always the case.

Be proactive and involved with your child’s homework. If you notice they’re spending hours every night on homework, ask them about it. Just because they don’t complain doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.

How can parents help?

  • While every parent wants their child to become successful and achieve the very best, it’s important to pull back on the mounting pressure and remember that they’re still just kids. They need time out to release their stress and connect with other children.
  • Many children may be afraid to admit that they’re overwhelmed by homework because they might be misconstrued as failures. The best thing a parent can do is make home a safe place for children to express themselves freely. You can do this by lending a listening ear and not judging your kids.
  • Parents can also take the initiative to let the school know that they’re unhappy with the amount of homework being given. Even if you don’t feel comfortable complaining, you can approach the school through the parent-teacher association available and request your representative to plead your case.
  • It may not be all the subjects that are causing your child to get stressed. Parents should find out if there is a specific subject of homework that is causing stress. You could also consult with other parents to see what they can do to fix the situation. It may be the amount or the content that causes stress, so the first step is identifying the problem.
  • Work with your child to create a schedule for getting homework done on time. You can set a specific period of time for homework, and schedule time for other activities too. Strike a balance between work and play.
  • Understanding that your child is stressed about homework doesn’t mean you have to allow them not to try. Let them sit down and work on it as much as they’re able to, and recruit help from the older siblings or a neighbor if possible.
  • Check out these resources to help your child with their homework .

The main idea here is to not abolish homework completely, but to review the amount and quality of homework being given out. Stress, depression and lower grades are the last things parents want for their children.

The schools and parents need to work together to find a solution to this obvious problem.

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Stress relievers: Tips to tame stress

Stress getting to you? Try some of these tips for stress relief.

Is stress making you angry and grouchy? Stress relievers can help bring back calm and peace to your busy life. You don't have to put a lot of time or thought into stress relievers. If your stress is getting out of control and you need quick relief, try one of these tips.

Almost any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Even if you're not an athlete or you're out of shape, exercise can still be a good stress reliever.

Physical activity can pump up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that boost your sense of well-being. Exercise also can refocus your mind on your body's movements. This refocus can improve your mood and help the day's irritations fade away. So go on a walk, take a jog, work in your garden, clean your house, bike, swim, weight train, vacuum or do anything else that gets you active.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is an important part of taking care of yourself. Aim to eat many fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Avoid unhealthy habits

Some people may deal with stress with unhealthy habits. These may include drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking, eating too much, or using illegal substances. These habits can harm your health and increase your stress levels.

During meditation, you focus your attention and quiet the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can help both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Meditation can empower us to enhance our well-being.

You can practice guided meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, visualization and other forms of meditation anywhere at any time. For example, you could meditate when you're out for a walk, riding the bus to work or waiting at your health care provider's office. Try an app to show you how to do these exercises. And you can try deep breathing anywhere.

A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments. But it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness. When you laugh, it lightens your mental load. It also causes positive physical changes in the body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response.

So read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with your funny friends. Or give laughter yoga a try.

Connect with others

When you're stressed and irritable, you may want to isolate yourself. Instead, reach out to family and friends and make social connections. Even one good friend who listens can make a difference.

Social contact is a good stress reliever because it can offer distraction, give support, and help you put up with life's up and downs. So take a coffee break with a friend, email a relative or visit your place of worship.

Got more time? Try volunteering for a charity and help yourself while helping others.

Assert yourself

You might want to do it all, but you can't, at least not without paying a price. Learning to say no or being willing to delegate can help you manage your to-do list and your stress. Healthy boundaries are important in a wellness journey. Everyone has physical and emotional limits.

Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But instead, it may cause you inner conflict because your needs and those of your family come second. Putting yourself second can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even the wish to take revenge. And that's not a very calm and peaceful reaction. Remember, you're a priority.

With its series of postures and breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you reach peace of body and mind. Yoga can help you relax and ease stress and anxiety.

Try yoga on your own or find a class — you can find classes in many areas. Hatha yoga, especially, is a good stress reliever because of its slower pace and easier movements.

Get enough sleep

Stress can cause you to have trouble falling asleep. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep can suffer. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

And how well and how long you sleep can affect your mood, energy level, focus and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, listen to soothing music, make sure the area you sleep in is cool, dark and quiet, put phones and tablets away, and stick to a regular schedule.

Keep a journal

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up feelings. Don't think about what to write — let it happen. Write anything that comes to mind. No one else needs to read it. So don't aim for perfect grammar or spelling.

Let your thoughts flow on paper, or on the computer screen. Once you're done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to think about later.

Get musical and be creative

Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever. It can provide a mental distraction, lessen muscle tension and lower stress hormones. Turn up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music.

If music isn't one of your interests, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy. For example, try gardening, sewing, reading or sketching. Or try anything that makes you focus on what you're doing rather than what you think you should be doing.

Seek counseling

If new stressors are making it hard for you to cope or if self-care measures aren't relieving your stress, you may want to think about therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped. You also may think about therapy if you worry a great deal, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting duties at work, home or school.

Professional counselors or therapists can help you find the sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.

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  • How stress affects your health. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx. Accessed Jan. 24, 2023.
  • Relaxation techniques: What you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https:// www.nccih.nih.gov/health/relaxation-techniques-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed Jan. 23, 2023.
  • Meditation and mindfulness: What you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-and-mindfulness-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed Jan. 23, 2023.
  • Yoga: What you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed Jan. 23, 2023.
  • Stress and your health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/good-mental-health/stress-and-your-health. Accessed Jan. 23, 2023.
  • I'm so stressed out! Fact sheet. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/so-stressed-out-fact-sheet. Accessed Jan. 24, 2023.
  • Seaward BL. Essentials of Managing Stress. 5th ed. Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2021.
  • Creagan ET (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Feb. 8, 2023.
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How to Reduce Homework Stress at School

How to Reduce Homework Stress at School

For many students, homework is one of the worst parts of school. Taking some of the stress from the school building home with you is not a good feeling. 

According to  a study from Stanford University , 56% of students see homework as a “primary” source of stress. And when stress can lead to poor sleep, less healthy eating habits, and reduced time for your social life, it quickly becomes apparent that school stress can be a serious problem. 

So we want to talk about how to reduce homework stress—and how to begin while you’re still physically at school.

Ideas for Reducing Your Homework Stress:

Talk to teachers, TAs, and mentors while you’re at school:

If you need academic help to reduce your homework stress, take advantage of the fact that you’re around knowledgeable people at school! Don’t wait until you’re home when all you can do is panic and become anxious; ask for help when you can!

School is a place your brain associates with learning—so learn there:

Take advantage of free periods or gaps between classes and use that time to study, work on homework, and plan out your day while your brain is in that “academic” state.

Talk to your friends about homework:

Is there any phrase more comforting than “I haven’t started yet either,” said by a fellow student? Talking to friends and peers about schoolwork can be a great way to reduce homework stress because it helps you to maintain social activity while talking to someone experiencing the same issues as you.

If your stress comes from difficulty with time management, check out our tips and tricks to learn how time management reduces stress .

Bring your smart compression sleeve to school with you.  

A student studies from textbooks and his laptop, taking notes with an eSmartr smart compression sleeve on his arm.

The sharper your focus, the clearer your head. And the less stressed you are going into class, the more likely you are to retain information. eSmartr’s smart compression sleeves can make all that easier by naturally increasing your focus as you wear it on your arm. Natural solutions are ideal solutions , after all, which is why smart compression is so powerful in a classroom!

One way or another, you probably have to go to school—and if you don’t, there’s a good chance you’re still spending the time in online classes —so making the best of your time there is a great way to reduce homework stress. You don’t have to get all of your work done at school, of course, but as long as you’re able to arm yourself with knowledge and confidence, you’ll be off to a great start—and with eSmartr on your arm you should have no trouble at all.

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16 Effective Stress-Management Activities and Worksheets

Stress management activities

The interview is in 10 minutes, yet I want to run away.

Sound familiar?

Fear and anxiety lead to stress responses – cognitive, physical, and behavioral.

Deeply embedded and automatic, they evolved to provide humans with warnings, guiding present and future behavior while attempting to maintain a relatively stable internal state known as homeostasis (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016; Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).

However innate these responses may be, there are ways to manage the stress you perceive.

This article offers our favorite stress-management activities and worksheets to help you deal with whatever challenge lies in your path.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free . These science-based exercises will equip you and those you work with, with tools to manage stress better and find a healthier balance in your life.

This Article Contains:

A note on stress-management approaches, keeping a digital stress diary with quenza, our 3 favorite stress-management worksheets, 3 activities to help manage stress, stress management within therapy sessions.

  • Worksheets for Your CBT Sessions

3 Printable Tools for Children

Top 3 exercises for helping students, for group therapy sessions, a take-home message.

Stress, or rather the perception of stressors, can be managed, and there are ways to do so:

  • Preparation increases our sense of control and improves confidence.
  • Relaxation reduces anxiety and restores focus.
  • Maintaining physical health via a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, and exercise underpins overall mental wellbeing.

Another way to manage stress is to reframe our perception of it.

Rather than see it as unwelcome and to be avoided, pressure can provide an essential opportunity for development and learning. Viewed as an opportunity to thrive, stress can be the motivation to perform at our very best and adopt a growth mindset (Lee, Park, & Hwang, 2016).

In what follows, we will point you toward a range of useful worksheets and tools you can use to help your clients better manage stress. Most are free, but some of these come from our own Positive Psychology Toolkit© , which is a comprehensive subscription-based resource containing more than 400 exercises, activities, interventions, questionnaires, and assessments you can use to support your clients.

If you’re looking for more ways to grow your coaching or therapy practice using engaging, science-backed tools, be sure to check it out.

Stress Diary Tool

Despite the dangers of experiencing prolonged stress, many of us are likely to be tuned out to our body’s signals that we are experiencing stress.

Likewise, we may not have stopped to consider the factors in our lives that are most responsible for causing us stress.

To help strengthen your clients’ awareness of the drivers and experience of stress, consider inviting them to complete a one-week stress diary.

The purpose of a stress diary is to help them look for patterns and insights into the most common causes of stress in their life and their reactions to stressful events. From here, you can help your clients find effective ways of dealing with stress in the future.

For a great, easy-to-administer tool, consider taking a look at the Stress Diary tool available via the blended care app Quenza .

The platform features a growing library of pre-programmed psychoeducational activities, within which is the Stress Diary Pathway. This pathway invites clients to reflect on the day’s stressful experiences for eight days and culminates in an in-depth reflection into the patterns of stressors, as well as the client’s reactions to these across the eight days.

relieve stress homework

Download 3 Free Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to manage stress better and find a healthier balance in their life.

Download 3 Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises Pack (PDF)

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A 2022 report found that in the UK alone, 17 million working days were lost due to stress, depression, and anxiety.

But help is at hand.

Multiple, evidence-based stress reduction techniques have been shown to lower stress levels, “ resulting in a reduction of disease symptoms, lowering of biological indicators of disease, prevention of disease and improvement of patient’s quality of life ” (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).

Many of these techniques are described below and will help you to manage stress in your life.

1. Breath Awareness

Breathing exercises can be a powerful way to place your body in a relaxed state. Sitting in a comfortable position and drawing your attention to your breath can release tension and offer a method for ongoing relaxation and a tool to use for times of stress.

Breath Awareness was created to help individuals cultivate a mindful awareness of their breathing and the present moment rather than get caught up in their thoughts.

Once comfortable, clients are asked to release any unnecessary tension and tune in to their breath. They are invited to observe the movements and sensations in their body with each inhale and exhale, without trying to change anything.

The exercise can be useful during moments of distress to unhook someone from their thoughts or as a mindfulness exercise.

Try out the Breath Awareness worksheet and practice it daily.

2. Anchor Breathing

Similar to the last activity, anchor breathing involves inhaling and exhaling consciously while focusing on the physical experience. In this exercise, clients are also instructed to imagine a peaceful scene – being on a boat, feeling calm and safe.

Deep breathing techniques have been shown to lead to decreased oxygen consumption and heightened alertness. EEG recordings have also recorded increases in theta wave amplitude when participants engage in certain deep breathing exercises, which is associated with reduced symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (Jerath, Edry, Barnes, & Jerath, 2006).

By showing patients how combine mindful breathing with calming, peaceful visualization, Anchor Breathing  provides an effective relaxation technique, reducing residual stress levels and providing support during acute episodes of stress (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).

3. The Five Senses Worksheet

Mindfulness can be cultivated by paying attention to what we observe and feel while using our different senses one at a time. During mindfulness practice, distractions are observed, and attention is gently returned to the body part receiving focus.

This exercise works in a similar way to the Body Scan exercise, which helps clients cultivate a mindful awareness of different body parts. Evidence from functional magnetic resonance imagining found that body scan meditation heightens brain activity linked to increased awareness of the present moment, focus, and stress reduction (Sevinc et al., 2018).

To read more about the steps involved, you can view or download The Five Senses worksheet .

If you’re looking for more tools, our free Mindfulness Exercises Pack  includes the popular Leaves on a Stream tool and audio meditation, as well as two other mindfulness tools and audio files that you can download for free.

use nature to help manage stress

1. Nature effect

The powerful effect of being outdoors has been validated many times and should not be underestimated.

Visitors to a park in Zurich were found to have significantly lower levels of stress, a reduced number of headaches, and a 40% increase in feelings of wellbeing. These positive effects were further elevated in those taking part in sports (Hansmann, Hug, & Seeland, 2007).

While drugs and therapy are often used as treatments for soldiers returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder, the medications and treatment frequently have to be continued for many years without providing a lasting cure. In response, nature-based therapy has begun to receive increased scientific attention.

In a 2016 study, veterans reported that merely being in the garden, often performing mindfulness activities, could improve the symptoms of their post-traumatic stress disorder (Poulsen, Stigsdotter, Djernis, & Sidenius, 2016).

The simple act of getting out into an open space can provide stress relief. We delve deeper into this in our post on Environmental Psychology .

2. Exercise

We are all aware of the physiological rewards of exercise, but the psychological benefits are equally impressive and backed up by research.

A seven-week exercise program was found to improve people’s moods ; reduce perceived stress; and increase optimism, self-belief , resilience, and a growth mindset (Cassidy, 2016).

Exercise regimes need not be extreme to be effective. Even modest levels of physical activity if performed regularly provide ongoing support for mental wellbeing, a growth mindset, and reduced levels of stress.

A great way to inspire you to start exercising may be found in our article on Mindful Running and Exercises .

3. Mindful movement

By replacing or combining some of our everyday car journeys with walking, we can become fully present in our day-to-day lives and improve mental health.

Indeed, a trial in 2017 found that combining walking with relaxation techniques is a great way to reduce levels of stress (Matzer, Nagele, Lerch, Vajda, & Fazekas, 2017).

Mindful walking combines the benefits of exercise, nature, and mindfulness.

Its goal is not to reach a destination, but to build an awareness of the moment, using the feet to anchor in the present. Pleasant and unpleasant bodily sensations such as muscle soreness are merely observed without opinion and let go.

3-Minute stress management: reduce stress with this short activity – Therapy in a Nutshell

Many people seek help when stress makes healthy living difficult. Therapy can help address immediate difficulties and work on the underlying causes (Strauss et al., 2018).

1. Anxiety Record

We often feel more vulnerable when we are asked to share what is making us anxious. The Anxiety Record worksheet helps individuals to understand what is causing their anxiety and learn appropriate coping skills.

Using this worksheet, clients can record their anxieties, triggers, and their effects. Afterward, they are guided through a breathing exercise and asked to revisit their answers to the questions.

A few prompts from this exercise are listed below:

  • When do you feel anxious?
  • What thoughts are you having before or during feeling anxious?
  • Do you think these thoughts are realistic?
  • What thoughts could you replace them with?

Click to download the Anxiety Record worksheet and give it a try.

2. Biofeedback training

Biofeedback builds on the concept of homeostasis introduced earlier. Using technology to measure and report brainwaves, skin temperature, breathing, and heart rate, the individual learns how to gain self-control over apparently involuntary bodily functions.

A recent meta-analysis of 24 studies confirmed that biofeedback training led to improvements in coping and offers a promising approach for treating stress and anxiety (Goessl, Curtiss, & Hofmann, 2017).

Individuals can ultimately learn to control their heart rate and blood pressure, reduce levels of stress, and even successfully treat high blood pressure and cardiac disease. Performed with a qualified therapist, these changes ultimately persist beyond the therapy (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).

Worksheet Suggestions for Your CBT Sessions

imagine a demanding boss

Many of us experience spontaneous thoughts as images rather than individual words or an internal conversation (Beck & Beck, 2011).

A child pictures an angry parent, and an employee imagines a demanding boss. They can be powerful, representing moments of fear or anxiety, and can be used in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions.

The following questions can form the basis of a conversation to explore a mental image and the individual’s relationship with it, cognitively restructuring its interpretation.

Imagery can feel as real to the mind as being in the situation, so playing through images in advance can restructure thoughts and emotions and reframe the stress.

2. Daily Exceptions Journal

A journal can be a fruitful way to track life’s ups and downs. Positive CBT encourages monitoring the client’s strengths and the positive outcomes of life rather than focusing on the negatives.

By capturing what went well in a Daily Exceptions Journal, it is possible to identify and record the skills and talents for reuse in other areas of your life.

Subsequently, walking through the journal during therapy reinforces successes, provides praise, and encourages discussion of the problems overcome.

Sensory awareness involves paying attention to a specific sensory aspect of the body. It can be a great way to teach mindfulness to children.

Such activities can also improve focus, increase self-awareness , help regulate emotions , and reduce anxiety.

1. The Raisin Meditation

The following exercise is a fun, palpable way for a child to develop mindfulness as a skill and notice the present.

Work through the Raisin Meditation worksheet following the steps with the child, paying attention to each sense in turn.

Children paying increased attention to their senses can learn to improve their focus and feel calmer.

2. Nature Play

Ongoing research has recognized the importance of playing and spending time outdoors on children’s mental wellbeing (Dankiw, Tsiros, Baldock, & Kumar, 2020).

Practicing underused senses such as sound can heighten a sense of awareness and promote mindfulness. This can be especially true in an unfamiliar environment, including walking through the countryside with family.

The questions can be tailored to the environment. Starting or pausing somewhere relatively quiet may assist the child’s focus more at the start.

Print the Nature Play worksheet here.

3. Anchor Breathing

Anchor breathing can be quickly learned and helps a child to focus their mind on one point.

Such mental training offers a valuable method for gaining perceived self-control and reducing stress.

The Anchor Breathing method also works with hands placed gently on the belly or in front of the nose.

meditation on the soles of the feet

The following three examples, along with the activities described above, can be learned quickly and implemented into a student’s daily routine to help manage both acute and chronic stress.

1. Urge Surfing

Coping with (often self-destructive) urges can be difficult, especially in times of stress. Such behavior can become a crutch, making us feel like we are taking control, when in reality, we are relinquishing it.

The Urge Surfing worksheet is available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit© . Backed up by scientific research, mindful self-acceptance can teach individuals to observe their cravings rather than act upon them.

2. Meditation on the Soles of the Feet

Meditation on the Soles of the Feet  provides a safe space to work on managing strong emotions and regulating the urge to be aggressive , often a byproduct of stressful situations (Kruk, Halász, Meelis, & Haller, 2004).

The individual is not asked to stop angry thoughts – anger does serve a useful purpose at times – but rather to bring them under control through a shift of focus.

The client, standing or sitting with their feet on the ground, is asked to cast their mind back to a time that caused them to react very angrily. Then they are told to stick with those angry thoughts, letting them flow without hindrance. After that, they shift their attention to the soles of their feet.

Stretching and moving their toes, they feel the texture of their socks, the surface of the ground, or the insole in their shoes. They maintain focus, breathing naturally until feeling calm and in control.

Learning to manage anger more effectively reduces stress and anxiety, and increases feelings of control.

The full exercise is accessible with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit© .

3. Mindfulness

Working through the Leaves on a Stream and anchor breathing techniques, which are part of our free Mindfulness Exercises Pack , will help students focus awareness on the present moment and acknowledge and accept their feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

Research has identified the benefits of combining mindfulness and group therapy to help manage stress and increase resilience and positivity (Seyyed Moharrami, Pashib, Tatari, & Mohammadi; Babakhani, 2017).

Here is an example of a group exercise in mindfulness.

Walking Down the Street

The ability to observe, rather than react to, thoughts, emotions, and sensations is central to positive psychology.

The challenge is that the event and our thoughts about it are far from being the same.

The steps involved in the following exercise can be performed individually or in a group exercise, where everyone benefits from hearing one another’s thoughts.

Walking through the scene and discussing it in the group can help to develop positive behavioral change by separating thoughts and feelings from impulses and actions and, importantly, shape feelings while breaking a negative cycle of thinking.

relieve stress homework

17 Exercises To Reduce Stress & Burnout

Help your clients prevent burnout, handle stressors, and achieve a healthy, sustainable work-life balance with these 17 Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises [PDF].

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

Resources from PositivePsychology.com

Building resilience helps clients bounce back from stressful situations and use coping mechanisms to turn them into opportunities for growth.

The Realizing Resilience Masterclass© provides guidance, along with a set of practical tools, to build a more resilient mindset.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others manage stress without spending hours on research and session prep, this collection contains 17 validated stress management tools for practitioners. Use them to help others identify signs of burnout and create more balance in their lives.

Stress does not have to rule us. Stress should not be allowed to prevent us from doing what we want or need to do.

Instead, stress should be an enabler and drive us forward to build what we want and take on challenges that will allow us to grow.

There should be no excuse to hide from stress or become overwhelmed by it.

By using tools for coping and taking control, we can see stress as something natural that can invigorate and motivate us to overcome both planned and unexpected challenges.

These activities we shared will definitely help you manage stress. However, there are many other stress-management techniques to try out too. Identify those that work for you and implement them into your life. You will reap the benefits, especially before the next job interview or presentation.

Thank you for reading!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free .

  • Arch, J. J., & Mitchell, J. L. (2015). An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) group intervention for cancer survivors experiencing anxiety at re-entry. Psycho-Oncology, 25 (5), 610–615.
  • Beck, J., & Beck, A. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond. Guilford Press.
  • Bergstrom, C. (2018). Ultimate mindfulness activity book: 150 mindfulness activities for kids and teens (and grown-ups too!). Blissful Kids.
  • Babakhani, K. (2017). The effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy group on self-efficacy and quality of life of women with breast cancer. Multidisciplinary Cancer Investigation , 1 (1).
  • Brosschot, J. F., Verkuil, B., & Thayer, J. F. (2016). The default response to uncertainty and the importance of perceived safety in anxiety and stress: An evolution-theoretical perspective. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 41 , 22–34.
  • Cassidy, T. (2016). Psychological benefits of adhering to a programme of aerobic exercise. Clinical and Experimental Psychology, 2 (2).
  • Dankiw, K. A., Tsiros, M. D., Baldock, K. L., & Kumar, S. (2020). The impacts of unstructured nature play on health in early childhood development: A systematic review. PLoS One, 15 (2).
  • De Vibe, M., Solhaug, I., Tyssen, R., Friborg, O., Rosenvinge, J. H., Sørlie, T., & Bjørndal, A. (2013). Mindfulness training for stress management: A randomized controlled study of medical and psychology students. BMC Medical Education, 13 (107).
  • Goessl, V. C., Curtiss, J. E., & Hofmann, S. G. (2017). The effect of heart rate variability biofeedback training on stress and anxiety: A meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 47 (15), 2578–2586.
  • Hansmann, R., Hug, S., & Seeland, K. (2007). Restoration and stress relief through physical activities in forests and parks. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 6 (4), 213–225.
  • Jerath, R., Edry, J. W., Barnes, V. A., & Jerath V. (2006). Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: Neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Medical Hypotheses ,  67 (3), 566–571.
  • Kruk, M. R., Halász, J., Meelis, W., & Haller, J. (2004). Fast positive feedback between the adrenocortical stress response and a brain mechanism involved in aggressive behavior. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118 (5), 1062–1070.
  • Lee, C. S., Park, S. U., & Hwang, Y. K. (2016). The structural relationship between mother’s parenting stress and child’s wellbeing: The mediating effects of mother’s growth mindset and hope. Indian Journal of Science and Technology, 9 (36).
  • Matzer, F., Nagele, E., Lerch, N., Vajda, C., & Fazekas, C. (2017). Combining walking and relaxation for stress reduction: A randomized cross-over trial in healthy adults. Stress and Health , 34 (2), 266–27.
  • Poulsen, D. V., Stigsdotter, U. K., Djernis, D., & Sidenius, U. (2016). ‘Everything just seems much more right in nature’: How veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder experience nature-based activities in a forest therapy garden. Health Psychology Open, 3 (1).
  • Sevinc, G., Hölzel, B. K., Hashmi, J., Greenberg, J., McCallister, A., Treadway, M., … Lazar, S. W. (2018). Common and dissociable neural activity after mindfulness-based stress reduction and relaxation response programs. Psychosomatic Medicine , 80 (5), 439–451.
  • Seyyed Moharrami, I., Pashib, M., Tatari, M., & Mohammadi, S. (2017). The efficiency of stress management group therapy in job‌ stress and self-efficacy of nurses. Journal of Torbat Heydariyeh University of Medical Sciences, 5 (1), 42–49
  • Strauss, C., Gu, J., Pitman, N., Chapman, C., Kuyken, W., & Whittington, A. (2018). Evaluation of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for life and a cognitive behavioral therapy stress-management workshop to improve healthcare staff stress: Study protocol for two randomized controlled trials. Trials , 19 (209).
  • Varvogli, L. & Darviri, C. (2011). Stress management techniques: Evidence-based procedures that reduce stress and promote health. Health Science Journal , 5 , 74–89.

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The resources was very helpful. thanks.

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Interesting article although I wasn‘t able to open the links as it sent me to a site saying I had to purchase a toolkit in order to access them! I don‘t know why I get sent emails with resources that I‘m unable to access. Shame!

Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

Glad you found the article interesting, and I’m sorry our distinction between the free and paid resources here is not as clear as it could be — I’ll flag this with our editor. Yes, some of the resources listed are freely available while others are available to subscribers of the Positive Psychology Toolkit . However, the three resilience exercises mentioned at the beginning are free and should instantly arrive in your inbox and be available to use.

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De Metzger

These will be most helpful with the Native American population I serve

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Very practical exercises of relaxation. True we have to rule ourselves not left to unnecessary stress which consequently results in low well being and reduce quality of life. Thank you Jeremy

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Very helpful and easy to understand and practice documents. Grateful.

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The article was more helpful and am looking forward to read more of this kind.

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Hi Moses, So glad you found the resources helpful. Another great tool for dealing with stress is journaling, which you can read up about in our dedicated article here. – Nicole | Community Manager

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Just breathe: simple changes can reduce student stress and improve learning, say stanford researchers.

Stanford researchers confront student stress and well-being in new book (iStock/Steve Debenport)

Busy days, long nights. That's how many middle- and high- school students might describe their schedules. Whether jobs, sports, extracurricular activities or academics is eating their time and occupying their minds, the pressure to do it all and do it all well is affecting teens up and down the economic and social spectrum.

Many teens, surveys show, end up suffering from little sleep, engaging in unhealthy behaviors like taking "study drugs," and experiencing overwhelming anxiety that extends to college and beyond. This results in less learning, not more, say Stanford Graduate School of Education researchers who have worked for more than a dozen years in high-achieving schools and now have a new book outlining ways in which schools, teachers and parents can create healthier and more enriching learning environments.

The book, Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful kids ,  was written by researchers at Challenge Success, a project founded at the Stanford GSE that partners with schools and families on well-being.

In an interview, excerpted below, two of the authors - Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at Stanford GSE and co-founder of Challenge Success, and Maureen Brown, executive director of Challenge Success - describe what they've learned during their work with over 130 schools since 2004, and highlight some simple changes that can be done to create systemic and lasting change.

What is the book about, in a nutshell?

Denise Pope: This book is about how to engage kids with learning and how to improve their health and well-being. It's not solely about how to reduce stress, though that is a part of it. The issue is that good educational practices are being pushed aside in a fast-paced culture that emphasizes test scores and grades. We're really talking about changing the pedagogy, changing forms of assessment, changing how you structure the school day and pace. We're talking about whole school reform.

Maureen Brown: We take what we've learned at Challenge Success and illustrate best practices that give schools and families research-based tools that they can use, in many cases immediately, to make change.

Who should read this book?

Pope: We started writing it for educators, to give a guide to those schools that couldn't physically partner with us at Challenge Success. The goal was to compile our best practices. But after a little bit of writing, I handed it to my husband (who isn’t an educator) just to see if it made sense. He came back and said, 'You know, I was really interested as a parent as to why a school would use a block schedule or why so many kids are cheating or what is the purpose of taking an Advanced Placement course.' So we realized it was actually a book for a much broader audience of people who were interested in the research on some of these practices.

Brown: For example, if parents don't understand the 'why' for certain policies or practices, they can't help advocate for real systemic change. The book gives parents the ability to ask the right questions at their schools to understand why their school is going down a certain path.

How are students overloaded today?

Pope: People assume with the new standards and requirements for college admission, that teachers need to cover more topics in class and that kids need to take more courses and do more activities in school and after school to meet expectations for success. This is a confusion between rigor and load. Rigor is real depth of understanding, mastery of the subject matter. That's what we want. Load is how much work is assigned. Many educators and many parents assume that the more work you assign and the more work students do, the better they will understand it. That is not necessarily the case. For example, we have teachers who teach AP classes and cut their homework load in half, and the kids end up doing as well on the exam. You don't have to do four hours of homework in order to learn something in depth or to retain it. But four hours of homework can be incredibly damaging physically and emotionally.

relieve stress homework

What can schools do to improve student well-being?

Pope: We like to differentiate between short-term change - immediate changes - that help kids learn to cope better and longer term change to help create a structure in the school to improve learning and well-being for everyone. Schools can do major things in both those categories.

For example, schools can change their schedule from eight, 42 minute classes in a row to a type of block schedule where fewer classes meet for longer periods each day. This changes the pace; it allows you to go more in-depth in the learning and allows you to schedule things like advisory and time for teachers and students to meet in small groups. You're catching kids who are falling through the cracks in that way, and you're changing the whole pace of the day for everyone - adults and kids.

Schools can also focus on classroom practices that include mindfulness. A teacher can include time for deep breathing, meditation or focusing. Research shows centering yourself before a test by doing breathing exercises or other meditation reduces stress and in the long-term actually helps you do better on assessments.

Is there one thing school leadership should do that would improve well-being?

Pope: A principal should work to get a multi-stakeholder team together: you want students, teachers, parents and counselors to discuss the specific problems they are seeing around well-being and disengagement with learning. School leaders can use our research as a framework for how to structure that team or task force to work through these problems and implement changes.

But it's not a one-size-fits all model, so solutions will vary from school to school.

Is there one thing teachers can do?

Pope: We were really careful to put things in the book that a teacher can do tomorrow, that  aren’t money or district dependent. For example, if you want to reduce stress but also ensure you’re getting deeper learning, you may try to use more formative assessments.  When you give a test and kids don't do well, and then you move on to the next unit, you haven’t helped them understand the material. If you allow or require students to turn in test corrections so they understand what they got wrong, you're enhancing learning and well-being. Better yet, if you use more authentic ways to check for understanding – for instance – performance assessments like essays or projects, students know they will have multiple opportunities to revise and improve their work instead of facing the stress of a high-stakes, timed, traditional test.

Brown: We are mindful that teachers are constantly asked to do one more thing and then two years later asked to undo what they've done. So we're not asking for that. We're talking about building in proven practices that should make teaching more effective and students more engaged. We talk about the importance of quality, ongoing professional development to help make these lasting changes.

Is there one thing parents can do?

Brown: Parents can listen, really listen, to what their kids are telling them, and they can commit to start making small changes at home. We’re not saying drop everything, but parents can start by looking at how scheduled their kids are: Are there a couple of activities that they could eliminate to allow for more free play and/or down time? Are the kids really excited about an activity or extracurricular; if not, why are they doing it?

Pope: When parents take a careful look at a student’s schedule, both in and out of school, they can determine whether it is a healthy schedule.  Is the child getting enough sleep? Have enough time to do homework and also spend time with friends and family? If not, something has to change.

What obstacles do schools face when trying to implement these changes?

Brown: Making change is really hard, whether it's a Fortune 500 company or a local middle school. What we see a lot is schools trying to take on too much too quickly without laying the groundwork for change and without really thinking through obstacles they might face and without getting the buy-in they need from teachers, students and parents. We think that when they spend a little time up front and go slow they have a much higher chance of success.

Also, schools are busy places and there are a lot of competing interests for time and financial resources. Just having dedicated time to bring a group together to have a conversation on what they need to be doing is really valuable.

Is there a typical school you're addressing for these changes?

Pope: All of the schools in our case studies are considered high-achieving schools - meaning most of the students go on to some form of post-secondary education - but the populations in those schools vary. Some schools have around 50 percent of their kids on free or reduced lunch, while others have a very small percentage on free or reduced lunch. Adolescents from across income levels experience stress. Our strategies are aimed at benefiting all children who are overburdened, stressed out, and disengaged with learning.

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Albaraa Basfar, a Stanford postdoc in a pilot fellowship program led by the GSE and the School of Medicine, presents research in progress at a meeting in March.

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4 Ways To Get Good Grades and Reduce Stress

Gelyna Price

Gelyna Price

Head of programs and lead admissions expert, table of contents, reduce stress.

Stay up-to-date on the latest research and college admissions trends with our blog team.

4 Ways To Get Good Grades and Reduce Stress

High school is hard. A typical day might begin at 6:00 am; you start by getting ready, finishing up last minute homework, commuting to school. Then you go from class to class for 8 hours; this is followed by extracurriculars, club meetings, SAT prep, and sports practices for another 2-4 hours. By now it is 7:00 pm, and a student might still have 3 hours worth of homework ahead of them! Now, they can finally take a break and fall right asleep. Or more likely, they stay up until the early morning watching tv, scrolling through social media, or playing video games. Essentially, students do any activity in an attempt to regain some downtime. We’re here to help: this article contains 4 ways to get good grades and reduce stress at the same time. As some say, work smarter, not harder.

Do all students feel this way?

The Atlantic cited a recent study finding 49% of high school students reported “a great deal of stress” on a daily basis. 50% of students reported doing three or more hours of homework per night. The level of stress that many students experience in the pursuit of perfect grades and college admission is extreme. In fact, it is causing burnout, anxiety, depression, and many other forms of psychological and physical damage.

Many students see stress as a necessary ingredient for succeeding academically. You might brag to your friends about how little you slept last night; how you applied to 5 different summer programs all in one week; or how many practice tests you took studying for your exam. But the truth is that stress isn’t a normal side effect of success. It’s not a badge of honor, showing how well you are doing.

The hidden side effects

In fact, it might even be limiting how well you can actually do:

“While stress around the time of learning is thought to enhance memory formation, thus leading to robust memories, stress markedly impairs memory retrieval; bearing, for instance, the risk of underachieving at exams. Recent evidence further indicates that stress may hamper the updating of memories in the light of new information and induce a shift from a flexible, ‘cognitive’ form of learning towards rather rigid, ‘habit’-like behaviour.” Susanne Vogel and Lars Schwabe in the Science of Learning article “Learning and memory under stress: implications for the classroom.”

What does that mean for me?

Stress is your body’s defense signal, your “fight or flight” response, telling you that there is some sort of threat that you need to protect yourself from. It might be real or imagined, but in the context of school, it’s believing your life is over if you don’t do well on that upcoming midterm or that presentation in front of your entire class. Yes, stress in small doses can be motivating, but when it becomes your default state, you can lose the ability to think clearly and actually do your best.

So how do you stop stressing? How do you keep making your high achievements and get your life back? Let’s review 4 of Empowerly’s recommended tips to still earn good grades and reduce stress to help yourself in the long run.

1. Listen to your head

If you’re a chronically stressed, high-achieving student, you are probably used to ignoring your internal signals telling you you’re tired, hurting, or need to take a break. You push through and only when you are finished you let yourself rest. Well here’s the problem: When you’re feeling stressed, tired, etc., your quality of work decreases. You’re mind starts to focus on being stressed while you’re trying to focus on studying for your exam. So, if you are working on a task and start feel overwhelmed, stressed, or burnt out, notice this and take a 10 minute break. Go for a walk. Watch a funny video. Grab a snack. Let your mind rest so that when you come back to your studying, you are refreshed and able to bring your full strength to the task.

2. Stop Multitasking!

This one is probably most important for those students who find themselves spending excessive amounts of time on homework assignments. If you are a person who does homework while watching tv, or takes way too frequent social media breaks, you shouldn’t be surprised that it takes you twice as long to finish your homework. Your homework is usually a chance to really learn the information before the test, so when you multitask on this essential learning opportunity, you end up having to study more to make up for what you didn’t really learn on your homework!

When you sit down to start your homework, turn off your phone, shut off the tv, find a quiet space with minimal distractions, and just focus on the task. Chances are, you’ve heard this advice before. If you need more convincing on why multitasking is not a good idea, you can hear it from an MIT Neuroscientist .

3. Just start the task

Much of the anxiety around school is unnecessary. Worrying about how much homework you have, how long the essay needs to be, how many chapters you need to study. You are wasting your time and energy with all this worrying! Instead just get started. Make a dent in the work so it doesn’t seem like that much when you come back to it next. For example, next time you have an essay assignment, just start free flow writing. Brainstorm and write without editing as you go. That way, when you come back to edit your work later with fresh eyes, it’ll probably feel like less work since you already have so much of the essay written! Take this mindset to every big task you get, and you’ll find yourself getting your work completed faster, easier and with better end results.

4. Trust your abilities

When it comes to preparing for a test, it’s hard to know when to stop studying. You might labor away all night and continue studying up until the very second before test-taking time. But by now your brain is so fatigued from studying and exhausted from not sleeping that you’re having to work extra hard to recall everything you worked so hard to study. I’ve found I always do better when I make sure my mind is in a good place before a test than to spend the extra effort on additional studying.

If you’ve followed all of the advice up until know, you may even find that you already know much of the information without even needing to do the extra studying (depending on the class, of course). So on the day of the test, be well rested, eat a healthy breakfast, and put down the textbook. It’s too late to try to learn any more information anyway, so trust that you’ve done all the studying you could, and just take the test.

In conclusion

Now, this is all much easier said than done. You might not be able to just flip a switch and instantly get good grades and reduce stress to a point you feel free and amazing in school. It takes a certain mindset, a belief that you really can do well without the stress. It also requires that you actually put these things into regular practice. But being able to do so is an amazing feeling and will set you up for success later in life.

Want more personalized advice? Schedule a free consultation and learn what Empowerly can do for you. Our counselors are experts in helping students earn good grades and reduce stress on the journey to their best fit college.

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8 Tips to Handle Work From Home Stress

Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

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Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

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Challenges That Add to Stress

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When to Seek Help

Working from home can definitely be appealing—no dress code, no in-person supervision, no commute time, and the freedom to decide where you work. However, working remotely can present some significant and unique challenges that can create considerable stress. Utilize helpful tips to reduce your work-associated stress and set yourself up to effectively work at home.

At a Glance

Working from home can have benefits, but it can also be a source of stress. Poor boundaries, lack of structure, distractions, and social isolation are just a few common sources of work from home stress. If you're feeling the strain of working from from, there are strategies that can help you manage your stress. Having a consistent routine, minimizing distractions, connecting with friends, and taking regular breaks are just a few ideas that can help.

What Is Stressful About Working at Home?

Research has found that remote work can actually decrease both psychological and physical stress responses. Yet some people are surprised by the stress they feel once the novelty of working from home wears off and challenges become more apparent.

While these stressors may not be the same as long commute times or the feeling of never being alone, they can still take a toll.

According to research, those who work from home tend to report high levels of stress.

  • 41% of employees who more often worked from home vs. on-site considered themselves highly stressed, compared to 25% of those who worked only on-site.
  • 42% of those who work from home report frequent night waking, while only 29% of office workers reported the same.
  • Employees who work from home may experience more of a blur when it comes to work and personal life boundaries, especially with the use of smart devices.
  • Work-from-home employees may struggle more with the concept of unplugging and ending their work day compared to those who work in an office setting.

Using different technologies needed to work from home can also be a source of stress for some people. Needing to set up a new workstation at home and the difficulty of disconnecting after the workday can create added stress.

There are a number of specific challenges you might face when working from home. Here are some of the common sources of stress that many work-at-homers face.

Lack of Structure

When working from home, you may feel a true lack of structure. You may struggle with getting your day going, officially ending your day, and taking time for yourself for breaks and lunch. This can throw off your work-life balance .

Too Many Distractions

When working from home, you may experience distractions and interruptions throughout your day. Some distractions may include:

  • Receiving deliveries
  • Getting non-work related calls and texts
  • Spending time on social media
  • Watching television
  • Caring for pets
  • Dealing with neighborhood sounds (gardeners, trash trucks, etc.)

At home, you have creature comforts that can be tempting to indulge in. For instance, if you have a discouraging interaction with a client or management, in an office setting you just have to roll with it and get on with your workday. If you work from home, you can actually withdraw and go play video games until you feel better.

Working From Home When You're a Parent

You may also experience challenges working from home if you have children. Depending on their age, you may need to deal with childcare, working around their school schedule, and generally balancing your work and family life.

Difficulty Setting Boundaries

When working from home, you may experience challenges setting boundaries with people who forget that working from home is still working. Family members, friends, and neighbors may ask you for help or to engage with them during your working hours. You may even experience some frustration on their end if you note that you are unavailable.

Social Isolation

Those who work at home may find that solitude can be a double-edged sword. Research suggests that working from home can increase social isolation , which can impact motivation in the workplace .

This means that it can be beneficial to have some level of social interaction during the workday, especially in high-intensity work situations where productivity trends downward the more isolated an individual is.

Less Physical Exertion

When working from home, you may find yourself getting less exercise than you would in an office setting. Lack of exercise can impact your sleep quality and overall mental health. If you're less active during the day, you might not be as tired at night. You may have trouble sleeping and your work may suffer the next day.

On May 19, 2022, Verywell Mind hosted a virtual Mental Health in the Workplace webinar, hosted by Amy Morin, LCSW. If you missed it, check out this recap to learn ways to foster supportive work environments and helpful strategies to improve your well-being on the job.

Tips for Managing the Stress of Working at Home

Know that if you are working from home and feel intense pressure, you are not alone. There are many tools available for managing the stress associated with working from home. Here are some strategies for reducing your overall stress .

Create a Routine

Whether you set your own schedule or have specific hours that you need to be working, creating a routine can help you manage your time and focus better on your work.

  • Create a ritual that marks the beginning of your day : Your morning routine might include taking a walk before you start working, taking a few moments to stretch, and/or enjoying a coffee or tea at the start of your day.
  • Mark the end of your work day : This may include putting your work material away and out of sight, taking an evening walk, and/or lighting a candle.
  • Set a morning alarm : Waking up at the same time everyday can give you enough time to prepare for your workday. What time you opt to wake up may depend on how much time you need to warm up in the morning.
  • Set a regular lunch time : Taking lunch at a similar time everyday can give you a much-needed break and offers you time to refuel before getting back to work. Be sure to fully unplug during your lunch time so you can enjoy your break.
  • Take time to move around : This may mean walking around your home, heading outside for a quick walk, or doing some stretches during your breaks.
  • Spend some time outside : If weather permits, try to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. This can re-energize you. You may also consider engaging in a breathing exercise while outside.
  • Prioritize challenging tasks : If you have the ability to decide which projects or tasks to complete, consider doing the most difficult ones first to reduce potentially feeling overwhelmed later on in the day.
  • Make use of technology : If you want a little extra boost when it comes to time tracking and organization, consider using time management apps .

Experiment when it comes to creating your work-from-home routine and know that it may take a few weeks to months to acclimate to your new schedule.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

Even though it may be tempting to curl up in bed and work, try to create a dedicated workspace where you can solely focus on your job. Creating specific work and home boundaries, even if you're just using a small corner of your home, can help you mentally shift from home life to work. It may also help you leave your work "at the office" once you're done with your day.

Reduce Distractions

When you are ready to begin working, be sure to silence your phone and turn off any computer notifications you may receive that aren't work-related. You may also consider listening to relaxing music while you work, or using noise cancelling headphones if it's safe to do so depending on your particular situation.

Connect With Friends

If you feel isolated working from home, it's important to make an effort to connect with supportive individuals in your life. Because everyone may have different schedules, set up a regular time to video chat or call each other, and add it to your calendar as a reminder. You can also create a group chat to stay in touch with each other throughout the week.

Reward Yourself

To keep your motivation up , break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, and reward yourself for completing them. Rewards may include:

  • Taking a well-deserved break
  • Reciting a positive affirmation to yourself
  • Physically checking the task off of your to-do list
  • Giving yourself a few minutes to check in with friends
  • Taking a few moments to stretch or engage in a relaxation exercise

What each individual finds rewarding will vary, so give a few options a try to figure out which ones work best for you.

Get Comfortable Saying No

During your work hours, you may receive many non-work-related requests. For some individuals, it may feel incredibly difficult saying no to others and placing your needs above theirs. Know that it is perfectly okay to turn down someone else's requests if it interferes with your ability to get your job done.

Setting appropriate boundaries may help prevent you from taking on too much and offers you the opportunity to decide what you'd like to do with your free time.

Protect Your Sleep

Getting quality sleep at night directly impacts your overall well-being, including your ability to work from home effectively. Even though it may be tempting to do so, using screens late at night can alter your sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep. Be sure to prioritize unwinding at night and practice good sleep hygiene .

Press Play for Advice On Sleep Hygiene

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast , featuring neurologist and sleep expert Chris Winter, shares strategies for sleeping better at night. Click below to listen now.

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Practice Self-Care

When you work from home, it's important to prioritize self-care. Doing so may help you stay connected to yourself and better understand what you need in terms of work-life balance. Take your time figuring out how you can best take care of yourself and meet your needs. Practicing self-care may include:

  • Regularly exercising
  • Practicing meditation
  • Reading during your downtime
  • Taking naps
  • Listening to music you enjoy
  • Spending time with friends

Chronic stress can take a serious toll on both your physical and mental health. It can increase your risk of getting sick, affect your cardiovascular health, and make you more susceptible to mental health issues.

If the stress you are experiencing is making it difficult to function in your work and home life, it is essential to talk to a doctor or therapist. If you are experiencing symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, excessive fatigue, feelings of sadness, anxiety, or a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, it might be a sign of a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.

What This Means For You

While working from home may provide a sense of freedom, flexibility, and a no-cost commute, there are hidden stressors to be aware of. By focusing on what you can do to mitigate this stress , you can improve your overall work-life balance and general well-being. Take steps to set boundaries, reduce distractions, and practice healthy habits that will help you stay productive and stress-free.

Shimura A, Yokoi K, Ishibashi Y, Akatsuka Y, Inoue T. Remote work decreases psychological and physical stress responses, but full-remote work increases presenteeism . Front Psychol . 2021;12:730969. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.730969

Eurofound and the International Labour Office. Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work .

Gualano MR, Santoro PE, Borrelli I, et al. TElewoRk-relAted stress (TERRA), psychological and physical strain of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review .  Workplace Health Saf . 2023;71(2):58-67. doi:10.1177/21650799221119155

Bodner A, Ruhl L, Barr E, Shridhar A, Skakoon-Sparling S, Card KG. The impact of working from home on mental health: A cross-sectional study of Canadian worker's mental health during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic .  Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2022;19(18):11588. doi:10.3390/ijerph191811588

Hoornweg N, Peters P, van der Heijden B. Finding the optimal mix between telework and office hours to enhance employee productivity: A study into the relationship between telework intensity and individual productivity, with mediation of intrinsic motivation and moderation of office hours. In: Leede JD, ed.  Advanced Series in Management . Vol 16. Emerald Group Publishing Limited; 2016:1-28. doi:10.1108/S1877-636120160000016002

American Psychological Association.  Stress effects on the body .

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

COMMENTS

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