Of course, we can all remember the stress of year 7 – being the youngest, smallest and newest students in a rapid environment of movement as you use a map to walk to each new classroom only to meet yet another teacher was quite the pinnacle of anxiety.
However, as you continue to master the names of all your classrooms and attune yourself to the difference of having more teachers than you can count on one hand, you start to step with a little bit of a bounce.
This is until you are met with the challenges of a dynamic school environment as well as the strain of external pressures that tend to occur simultaneously which create what is known as stress. The causes of stress are countless however they can be better categorised by those that are internal and those that are external.
Internally speaking, high school students experience stress in the form of how one deals with workloads and deadlines, whether there is a balance between work, social and school life, personal attitudes towards receiving an education and even the thought of an uncertain future/career.
Personally, I experienced internal stress due to workload pressures and trying to organise my time to get all homework, assignments, and study done on top of spending time with my family and friends and also working. What I found that worked for me was writing lists. I encourage this strategy immensely as having a physical plan near your workspace that outlines what needs to be done is a fantastic in easing your busy mind with a schedule that guides you to not fall short.
At the start of every week in my senior years, I would draw three lines on a paper – one column for homework, one for assignments and one for extra study. I’d fill out any assignments I was yet to finish and also write in any subjects and areas that I needed to study.
As the week continued I’d write in the homework I received and if I finished my homework I would highlight it to mark it as done. When I didn’t have any homework left, I would move to the next column which would allow me time to work on my assignments and in times where I didn’t have any assignments to do I could use my time effectively by studying areas that I know I wasn’t strongest in.
As nice as seeing the money roll into your bank account is, I also found that taking time off from work to focus on my education was the best choice to deal with stress and maintain a balanced lifestyle. If I could give one tip to any student or even my younger self it would be to invest in your education.
Invest your time by making space in your schedule to sit down and finish school work or study more often. Invest your money by receiving tutoring if you feel it will help with your results; there is no shame in receiving help to better your academic performance.
In terms of external pressures, each student will endure contrasting factors from outside their school environment that play a very big role in their school performance and this is why stress caused from outward aspects of one’s life is of great importance.
External stress can range from family pressures, relationships, illness or injury and any major life changes. For me, I experienced family pressures as I was going into year 10 which stuck with me throughout the rest of my schooling experience.
Since that occurrence, I became quite silent about how I felt and less outgoing but I never made what was happening at home known to anyone at school. This worked for me for only a short amount of time due to a teacher becoming aware of my situation. As a result, this teacher persisted that I should seek further help from the school counsellor as a way for me to better deal with both school and these external stresses rather than hiding it and not opening up.
Trust me, I understand any student reading this thinking “there’s no way I’m opening up or letting anyone in my little world” because I was you. This is until I realised that getting help isn’t embarrassing and that telling someone what you’re really feeling is a liberating experience. I’m not saying that seeing a counsellor or professional help is for everyone because I too felt the exact same way, but talk to your friends; chances are they’re also feeling stressed too and through venting to one another you can both relieve some pressure.
Try talking to teachers; it’s easy to forget that they are human too and only want what’s best for you. So many people along my journey of high school touched my life even in the littlest of ways and once I realised this I also realised that I wanted to do the same for others and now I’m an undergraduate student studying psychology and law! 5 months ago I had no idea what the future held for me or what I wanted to be but it all became clearer when I began to talk to others.
Stress feels like all the stars are colliding at once and it’s all happening in your little head. It’s the complete opposite to receiving a good grade or being told that you’ll be watching a movie for the whole period but there are ways to deal with it.
Besides the already suggested strategies above, you could also download meditation apps like Calm or Headspace (I know It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but you never know unless you try and It’s proven to work wonders). I highly recommend the “Youper” app for debriefing your mental state of mind to a human-like robot.
Lastly, please find time for yourself. Too many students get carried away with partying and popularity as they age but just know that none of that matters unless you enjoy who you are as a person without everyone else’s opinion.
How to deal with stress at school?
Go for a walk, climb a mountain, go to the beach, write, read and sing out loud to your favourite songs even if no one else like them. But at the same time get on top of your mental health and try to enjoy school as much as you can because as much as my younger self wouldn’t believe it, you really will miss it when it’s over!