How to Handle Stress in High School

Samantha Veltrie, Staff Writer

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Stress is a phenomenon that we all experience in life.  In fact, you can’t have life without the stress that goes with it.  The stress that high school students encounter is a unique phenomenon; being a teenager comes with its own set of troubles.  Combined with preparing to transition into the adult world through the four years of high school, it can be overwhelming sometimes.  Some students struggle to manage their stress, but in reality, there are many ways to handle high amounts of stress.

First, and most importantly, learn to say no.  Some kids, on top of journalism, Spanish Club, Robotics, tutoring, bowling, and job responsibilities, need to learn how to turn down a friend’s fifth invitation to hang out in two weeks.  Now, that’s not to say you should cancel plans you do have, but often, students might find themselves unable to turn down someone who asks for their participation or help.  I know I am eager to lend a helping hand, but sometimes I realize how full my schedule is after I already agree.  Then, I’m all run down, and I struggle to give that person my best.  So watch your obligations.  A solution to help avoid stress from poor planning is to get a planner!  No, they’re not just for elementary schoolers or businesswomen.  A daily planner is useful when you just can’t keep track of all of your assignments and activities.  Simple ones are only a few dollars and well worth the assurance that you aren’t accidentally forgetting anything.

Second, set a bedtime.  Of course that sounds lame, but those of you who are busy know what I mean.  If you have a time that you know you should be in bed, aim for being in bed about a half hour beforehand.  For example, if you usually get in bed at midnight and stay up on social media until 12:30, perhaps you should plan on getting in bed a half hour earlier.  Also, studies show that screen time before bed inhibits a peaceful night’s sleep, and that the stress from smart phones (I have to respond to my friend this instant or she might think I’m mad at her!) may be a factor in the all-time high stress levels that our generation face.  A solution to this would be turning off your cell phone or using a mindful app to be more aware of when you spend screen time, but let’s be realistic.  So just planning for that extra time to scroll Instagram is a good step in the right direction.

Another thing you should do daily is to set aside time to do one of your favorite things- before or after your other responsibilities are completed, it doesn’t matter.  The point of this is that you should give yourself a little time every day to do the things you want to do without feeling guilty.  Because, let’s face it, turning to our favorite entertainment in times of high stress is a default for some people.  But, getting into a “just one episode” or “just one level” attitude when it comes to enjoying entertainment on busier days and sticking to it can have a positive effect.  This way, you have something to look forward to every day, and you won’t feel guilty about avoiding other activities in order to consume entertainment.

Finally, practice mindfulness.  Positive self-reinforcements and positive motivation can help reduce anxiety related to stress, which was published in a Harvard health study.  Breathe, remember you’re a human being with responsibility but don’t be overwhelmed by it.  Practice positive schedule habits, because what you establish in high school will benefit you in the future (arguably more than the fact that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell).  Use these four years to develop an action plan against stress- you’ll have plenty of practice!

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How to Handle Stress in High School