Stress by Emily Klassen
november 27, 2018
Everyone reading this sentence has been negatively stressed out before. I guarantee it. We've all been given challenges that we can't complete or problems that we can't fix, and it feels extremely overwhelming. I can assure that I'm not an expert, but if you're willing to read until the end, I will gladly tell you the answers to all of your problems.
(A warning in advance: this article does NOT actually have the answers to all of life's problems, nor is it a Buzzfeed article on "Ten Ways to Survive High School"; this is just one student's ways of dealing with the inevitable.)
The Science Behind It
What's truly going on in your head when you feel stressed? Let's take a look at what's happening chemically in that noggin of yours.
According to the studies of doctors and scientists across the world, when your body finds itself in a tense situation, it releases a 'fight-or-flight' chemical called cortisol. This chemical is certainly not bad by itself, as this is what can drive you to push yourself in competitions or athletics. On the other hand, too much stress leads to your body producing high amounts of norepinephrine, the chemical that produces panic. This is when stress can become really destructive, really fast. However, do not worry if you've felt that way. Hopefully what follows is a helpful guide for staying on top of your schedule and your health.
What Do I Do Now?
1. Get Some Sleep. It seems like it shouldn't aﬀect that much, but this really does change how you function physically and mentally throughout the day. In a study run by Nationwide Children's Hospital, it was found that the
average teenager gets about 7 hours of sleep, even though they need 2 1/2 hours more than that. I've definitely had nights where I need to stay up late in order to finish a project or assignment, but making this a regular pattern could be disastrous to your long-term growth. This isn't necessarily a problem here, but teachers should always be aware of this when assigning homework for the week, as assigning too much work per night could lead to the slow destruction of the students' mental health. This may sound dark, but your recovery or "recharge" time really is necessary for your body.
2. Eat Well. We all love a nice basket of tater tots or a bowl of ice cream now and then, but can you imagine eating that every day? It would taste great, but at some point, your body needs to take in nutrients in order to survive. It may seem random that your snack choices aﬀect your mood and mindset, but without a "balanced diet" your heart, muscles, and brain can't function at the level they're supposed to. It's also very hard to concentrate when you're hungry, so make sure you're giving your body the kind of foods that it needs.
3. Prevent Procrastination. Wow. I don't even know where to begin on this point. Knowing this skill will help you through not only high school, but the rest of your career. This is definitely the biggest source of my stress since I struggle with time management, but my best advice is to break your task into a handful of tiny tasks. Telling yourself that by next week you need to "write a paper" is vague and overwhelming, but by breaking it up into parts, it can feel much more doable for you. When I do pet portraits, sometimes I'm only given two weeks to complete it, so scheduling the time that I spend on the drawing is very important if I want to get it done on time. This principle can be applied to any situation; our struggles can seem overwhelming, but by breaking them down into parts we can make them much more manageable.
4. Free Time Is Important. Repeat after me: You. Are. Not. A. Machine. You are a human with personal needs, and you cannot work eﬀectively without taking breaks. Sometimes taking breaks can become an escape from the work that you're doing, and you want to try your best to avoid that. Your free time should be scheduled just as you do with your work time; keeping your work and free time completely separate will let you truly relax in your down time without thoughts of your responsibilities hanging over your head.
5. Others Have Stress Too. You don't have to feel like you're the only one who's ever been behind on their workload, struggling to find time to relax, or just facing some worries that won't stop nagging you. No one will have the exact same story that you do, but know that you're not alone in your battle against stress. Talk to the people close to you about how you're managing your work and free time and keep each other accountable; this has been one of the biggest helps for me personally.