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Stress: Our Takes, The Facts & More
It's no question that stress affects high school students, but can it be self-induced?
December 5, 2016
School-Induced Stress: The Facts & More
A dive into the sources of and solutions to student stress
Tomorrow is a big day–you have four tests, two assignments, and a six page essay due. You write, study, and write some more, and despite your strongest efforts, you know it is going to be a long night.
And, of course, you are stressed out of your mind.
If you are a student at Skutt Catholic, then statistically speaking, there is a one in two chance that you experience this phenomenon.
According to a recent study from a team of researchers in New York State, stress has been found to affect roughly half of all private high school students.
The source of this stress varied among students–some reported family situations, others said issues with dating, but nearly all of them reported school work and college applications to be major stress sources.
“Balancing school, work, homework, mental health, and my social life is difficult, takes up most of my time, and leaves me feeling moderately to severely stressed,” says junior Mia Morrissey.
This statement may seem generic, even cliché–and there’s a reason for that. It’s because high school stress is all too real for students.
And while extracurriculars can give students a chance to have fun and focus on something other than their studies, they too can be a source of stress.
Even if the extracurriculars themselves doesn’t cause stress, they can take up precious time, leaving students with less time to do homework and study for tests. Ultimately, they can cost students sleep.
“While activities can help me relieve stress, they take up time which sometimes makes me stay up late doing homework, which can be stressful,” Morrissey says.
There are methods that students can use to relieve themselves of a portion or all of their stress. While those with serious anxiety issues should consult experts, there are some easy ways to reduce and avoid stress.
“For me, planning out my week is a must,” says junior Emerson Hughes. “That way, I have a better idea of what exactly it is that I need to do.”
“Also, I find it helpful to take breaks while I’m working on homework. You’re more productive that way,” says Hughes. “If nothing else, get some sleep.”
She adds, “It’s important to always put things in perspective. Even if things don’t go as planned, it’s not the end of the world.”
Photo by Lily Yates
Stress is Nobody’s Fault but Your Own
How stress in school can be avoided
If you’ve ever eavesdropped on a high school conversation, chances are you’ve heard a distressed student complaining about their work and how stressed they are. Becoming overly stressed by any task assigned in school has become a popular trend among modern students. Aside from popular opinion, however, I believe that stress is solely a choice.
Now before I begin, I would like to note that there are a few instances where stress is not a choice, such as if someone has an anxiety disorder, but I highly doubt that every complaining student has a severe anxiety disorder. In general, stress is a feeling that can be easily controlled and even avoided.
I personally know many students at Skutt Catholic that simply do not get stressed, no matter what level of task is assigned to them. This does not classify these individuals as lazy; rather, they just get stuff done when it needs to be done without overthinking it. They are able to maintain good grades and complete their assignments without letting themselves get carried away by over-thinking the tasks at hand.
Stress usually occurs among students when they have a number of things due and they begin to overthink. They place far too much importance on these assignments. To avoid this, simply do not view your math worksheet as the be-all and end-all of your existence; instead, just complete what you need to do.
It can also be argued that stress cannot be avoided if you have a large amount of assignments or a huge project that you have to do the night before. This is not a strong point because the stress is created due to your personal decisions. The assignments that you let pile up could have been done prior. This is only difficult to avoid if you are very involved in activities or a job; however, you should still be able to plan accordingly.
The point is that stress is nobody’s fault but your own. It is easily preventable by not overthinking your tasks and not putting them off until the last minute. Many students nowadays procrastinate and place far too much importance on some of the school, which results in consistent complaining about stress that, in my opinion, they could have avoided. If you are one who is often burdened by stress, take a step back and analyze what could be changed to easily eliminate it.
Photo by Lily Yates
Stress: It’s Not a Choice
Why stress is understandable - and why claiming it's a choice doesn't help
Churning stomach, stinging eyes, a mind going two thousand miles an hour. Is the stress that many high school students experience a choice? The answer seems obvious – of course it’s not.
“The only way to consider stress as a choice is in the fact that we ’choose’ to fill our schedules in order to experience as much as possible,” says senior Rebecca Snowden. “But the stress that comes as an effect of all that one does in a day isn’t a choice. It’s a byproduct of not being able to combine healthy habits with all of your responsibilities.”
Some people champion the idea that those who are more involved in extracurriculars are ”choosing stress,” not stopping to consider the reasons why students may be choosing to participate – college applications, honor society requirements, parental pressure, potential future job experience, or even for the sake of preserving their own mental health if the activity helps them emotionally.
Let’s say a student under these conditions for some reason or other decided to give up activities. They would possibly also be sacrificing their emotional stability, security of their future lifestyle, or majorly disappointing their parents and coaches, but yes, some elements of stress would likely leave as well. The anxiety of having lost these sources of social and future security, however, would for many people overshadow any positive effects of a more lax schedule.
“I’ve talked to my mom, who’s a counselor, and she agrees that school has probably caused me and many students to develop anxiety, a mental disorder. That wasn’t a choice,” observes junior Caroline Hilgert. “You can’t choose your personality, and if you happen to have a mental disorder or are more inclined to stress, then you don’t have any choice.”
Obviously, students don’t choose to attend high school or the high-pressure expectations to do well there. “You can choose whether to shirk or ignore what’s asked of you and be less stressed in the now, but that’s likely going to hurt you in the long run which is extremely stressful in and of itself,” agrees sophomore Matthias Walters. And for those whose brains may be more prone, through no fault of their own, to high stress levels or perceived harsher consequences for failure, school can understandably become a living nightmare.
This makes the claim that “stress is a choice” both insensitive and incredibly close-minded, stemming from the assumption that the factors and experiences affecting everyone are the same as those affecting you. So next time you hear a classmate worrying about grades, activities, or bemoaning their stress levels, think twice before you interject about how easy it is to be stress-free.
You may just become a source of stress yourself.