Growing up, we are repeatedly told that going to school is important because it is necessary for our success. What we are not told is that school is stressful and can affect our daily lives. Whether you are in elementary school or college, school can always have stressors. I have known students who would throw up before going to school because they were nervous about finding what the day held for them, some would cry before an exam, and others who would speak of themselves in a denigrating manner when they received a bad grade. These are just some reactions that I have seen in students reacting to the stress of being in school, and honestly, they make school seem like a horrible place.
What if we could make school easier for our students? What if we could help them in the path to success by making school less stressful? I have found a couple of mental and self-care methods throughout my middle school, high school, and college career that could help others.
When most people hear the word stress, they think of the body’s reactions; a stomach-turning, an inability to focus, legs moving up and down, and forehead sweating, but many people forget about the brain. The brain is a fantastic organ that needs to be nourished to diminish stress and push students along the path to success. Therefore, ensuring that a student takes proper care of their mental health is a crucial aspect of attending school. The following are seven tips for diminishing school stress:
Identify Signs of School-Related Stress
To know how to stop school stress, you must be able to identify when you are stressed. Once students can identify their signs of school stress, they can recognize that something needs to change. While everyone can have different signs and symptoms, the following are common signs and symptoms found by Harvard University: repeated absences, deterioration in the quality of work, feeling discouraged about the academic process, unusual weight gain/loss, irritability, constant anxiety, and changes in sleep habits.
With so many deadlines and exams, I have personally wondered about the inconvenience of sleep and if it is really necessary to waste precious time. The answer to my question was simple; sleeping is not a waste of time because we must give our bodies time to recover from the grueling processes that is our daily life. Without sleep, our body and brain will not function at its maximum level, and we will leave ourselves at a lower capacity than we are capable of reaching. According to the CDC, six to twelve-year-olds should sleep 9 – 12 hours, thirteen to eighteen-year-olds should sleep 8 – 10 hours, and eighteen to sixty-year-olds should sleep 7+ hours per night.
Organize & Prioritize
It may seem obvious to mention that organization and prioritization are crucial to reducing stress, but many times we forget about it. Whether you want to organize by writing a schedule, taking time every Sunday to plan your week out, or ranking tasks in order and assigning them to specific times, organizing and prioritizing your tasks can be very helpful. Knowing that you have set time to complete tasks and have prioritized the important things will help your brain feel less cluttered and worried about having everything done on time.
Make Time for the Fun Things
When we are stressed, we forget to do things that help us relax. Whether it is doing exercise, drawing, listening to music, hanging out with friends, or keeping up with a hobby, everyone needs to spend time doing something fun. By doing something fun, the mind gets a chance to relax, your body releases endorphins, and when you get back to work, your mind is fresh and ready to start.
Knowing your Limits
I have often found myself buried in work because I chose to take too many things on at once. Whether I was overloading myself on work, classes, sports, or community service, I have found myself overwhelmed, trying to keep up with everything that I committed to. As such, one of the most important tips I could give anyone is to know your limits. Know what you can and cannot do and check yourself often to make sure that you are not overcommitting.
While there is no one answer fits all solution, the above tips can help make school less stressful and hopefully more fun for any student!