The South Jersey area is filled with so many relaxing and mentally stimulating places to de-stress. (Taylor Goodman ('25))
The South Jersey area is filled with so many relaxing and mentally stimulating places to de-stress.

Taylor Goodman ('25)

De-stressing in the Community

March 10, 2023

People constantly feel overwhelmed and burnt out due to stress from their everyday lives. Stressed-out teens often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms when they feel overwhelmed by schoolwork, so it’s important to find healthy techniques instead. Lucky for us, our community is filled with so many activities for de-stressing such as attending a yoga class, painting pieces at Color Me Mine, going to the movie theater, etc. In this package, you will learn about the different types of stress, how stress affects our lives, and different ways to cope at home and in the community.

The science of stress


Courtesy of

The brain is the central organ that deals with stress in our bodies.

Stress is very common among students, especially students in high school. These teens are constantly under pressure about their grades, extracurricular activities, sports, jobs, SAT/ACT exams, college essays and applications, and much more. Schools all around the world have recently attempted to build mental health lessons into their curriculum due to the rising number of mental illnesses among teens in this generation. These lessons typically teach teens about the generic aspects of mental health and how to deal with it, but what else is there to know about stress?
Our brains are the central organ in our bodies that handle stress and help us adapt to stressful situations. The brain recognizes stressful and threatening situations and takes us into fight-or-flight mode. Also, the brain is the organ that develops the behavioral and physiological responses to our stress, signaling to the rest of our body what to do to cope. Although stress isn’t a pleasant feeling, some types of stress aren’t necessarily bad to experience.
Good stress occurs when someone rises to a challenge or tries something new. They might leave the situation feeling accomplished, but they also might leave the situation learning something new or finding ways to grow. The best way to deal with this stress is to have a positive attitude and be prepared to not always win or get something correct the first time around. Most of our life experiences are learning opportunities, so it’s important to keep a positive mindset when you make a mistake. This is important to keep in mind after receiving a grade back from a test. Students often get very hard on themselves if they don’t get their desired grade, but they have to remember to learn from their mistakes so they can improve in the future.
Tolerable stress takes place when a situation arises that causes discomfort, something doesn’t go someone’s way, or bad things happen. In these situations, people can cope with stress by talking to others and using the situation as a learning opportunity for growth. In school, things might not always go our way if we don’t make a sports team or win the school election. In these cases, the outcome we hoped for might not have happened. It’s important to ask yourself how you can improve to do better next time.
Toxic stress might take over someone’s brain if something doesn’t go their way or something bad happens, and they can’t seem to cope with the stress. These people might not have a person to talk to and tend to bottle up their emotions. This can lead to even more discomfort and a lack of self-esteem.
Any of these kinds of stress “may cause us to be anxious and or depressed, to lose sleep at night, to eat comfort foods and take in more calories than our bodies smoke or drink alcohol excessively…to neglect seeing friends…to take time off from our work, or reduce our engagement in regular physical activity,” Bruce S. McEwen said in Neurobiological and Systemic Effects of Chronic Stress.
Overall, there are many different kinds of stress varying from healthy, tolerable feelings and actions to toxic stress that produces unhealthy thoughts and actions. It’s important to recognize your stress and find productive ways to cope and deal with your emotions to prevent further stress or overwhelming thoughts.

The Amazing Escape Room


Taylor Goodman ('25)

Amazing Escape Room in Cherry Hill, NJ, has multiple mentally stimulating game rooms.

The Amazing Escape Room in Cherry Hill, NJ, offers a variety of game rooms for people to enter, find clues, unlock keys, and work together to escape. A friend and I entered The Laboratory room. In this room, “someone has poisoned the Swedish Prime Minister and they only have an hour to live. There is hope though for the Prime Minister. Hidden in the Lab are all the necessary steps to make an antidote to save the Prime Minister. If you can solve the clues, [puzzles] and tricks and find that antidote in under an hour, you will be the envy of a nation,” said
When we first entered the room, we began to browse through the laboratory to find any keys, locks, buttons, puzzle pieces, and suspicious-looking cases or props. In the rooms are big TV’s with a clock showing the players how much time there is left. Also, if the players are stuck at any point and need help, they can wave their arms in the air and yell “clue, clue, clue!” The game master then types a clue onto the TV to help the players move on to the next step. The players are only given three clues though, be sure to use them wisely!
I had a very positive experience in the escape room. We successfully found the antidote and escaped the laboratory! Participating in this escape room was a great de-stressor for my partner and me. Although you might think of more relaxing activities as de-stressors, the escape room did the trick by distracting my brain from school stress. I was able to exercise my brain in another way and take a step away from my everyday stressors when I played the game. Thinking about finding keys and codes helped take my mind off of everything else for an hour, and once we finished the escape room, I felt not only a sense of accomplishment but also very relaxed. I almost felt that taking a break from my school work and coming back to it an hour later helped me become more productive because I allowed myself a brain break to do something fun.
Overall, I had a 10/10 experience at The Amazing Escape Room in Cherry Hill, NJ, and I would definitely recommend gathering a group of friends to go to an escape room!

Yoga at Lifetime Fitness


Julia Sitnick ('25)

The calming environment of a yoga class at Lifetime Fitness.

If you are looking for a new fitness class that benefits your physical and mental health, a yoga class would be perfect for you. Recently, I took a yoga class at Lifetime Fitness in Mount Laurel. While I was not sure that I would be up for the challenge of doing yoga, the slow, deliberate pace of the movements turned out to be a great fit for me.
The class that I took was called Surrender, a meditative yin-yoga class taught by Jenny Sabia, a knowledgeable and passionate yoga instructor. During the hour-long class, we utilized deep breathing techniques to complete a series of passive stretches using long-held poses, each of which could be held for around six minutes. Sabia explained how the practice of yoga can improve health and reduce stress levels.
“Amongst a million things yoga does, reducing stress is one of them. We are taught how to create a calm mind here using our breath . . . . calming our whole nervous system and reducing stress. A lot of the poses we do can also aid in that. The whole vibe in general of yoga is to create a calmness that stays in your life,” said Sabia.
Each person in a yoga class experiences it differently because yoga is focused on mindfulness. At first, I felt uncomfortable posing on my mat, but when I looked around to try and figure out what to do, I realized that each person was working at their own level. The goal of the class was not about achieving perfection, it was about focus and effort. This helped me to relax and become more comfortable with the poses.
It can take a lot of practice to get the full benefit of yoga because you must be able to meditate and hold challenging poses. People with different skill levels can all take the same class though because yoga is a process that offers benefits at every level. According to Sabia, through practice, you can achieve greater intensity in yoga poses, but the ability to practice mindfulness makes it a great stress reliever for both beginners and experts.
“I think every time you come into the studio and put your mat down you are practicing something different and are learning something about yourself . . . . The main benefit in yoga is learning how to use your breath throughout your life when times are really hard,” said Sabia.
My favorite part about the class was the mental challenge of holding long poses. It helped me to clear my mind and be present in that moment. I left the class feeling more relaxed. I am glad that I went out of my comfort zone and tried my first yoga class. This class was a tremendous stress-relieving activity that I would recommend everyone should try!

AMC Theatres


Jillian Koenig ('24)

The lobby at the AMC Theatres filled with comfy chairs, movie posters, and food.

While I am not someone who is a huge fan of movies (they’re just too long, in my opinion), I do enjoy going to the movie theater. You may be confused about how I could like the movie theater, but not like watching movies. You see, there is more to the movie theater than watching the movie. The overall experience one gets from going to a movie theater is a relaxing one.
For starters, the seats at a movie theater are some of the comfiest seats ever. Plenty of theaters even have reclining seats. What could be more relaxing than watching a movie (or taking a 90-minute nap) in a super comfortable, reclining chair?
Another de-stressing feature that movie theaters provide is their extensive menu of food. From popcorn to candy to pretzels to even chocolate hazelnut-filled churros, the movie theater cafe has it all.
As for the actual “movie” part of the movie theater, watching a movie is a great way to get lost in a different world and escape your current stressful state of mind. Movies have an effect on us whether they make us feel sad, happy, scared, or excited. By allowing a movie to change your emotions, you are able to get away from stress and anxiety.
Mr. Pete Gambino, who teaches the Film Appreciation course at East, believes that watching a movie can provide an escape from the real world.
“The most relaxing aspect for me is vicarious experience through a story. The thing that a movie offers that I really gravitate towards is a safe place to process either challenging material or just a fun escape,” Gambino said.
When you are stressed and overwhelmed, experts recommend getting in touch with your five senses. The movie theater can help you reach all of your senses at once: sight as you watch the movie, hearing as you listen to the movie, touch as you feel the comfortable seat beneath you, taste as you drink your cherry Icee, and smell as you get a whiff of buttery popcorn.
Watching a movie at home just doesn’t provide you with this same experience. Gambino believes that nothing tops the experience you receive when watching a movie in the theater.
“Something that I think people don’t value as much as a whole anymore is the common experience of watching [a movie] with other people — crying with strangers or laughing with strangers. I think there’s really nothing that beats it,” Gambino said.
Overall, going to the movies is an excellent opportunity to escape from reality for a few hours and take some time to relax.

Olive Nail Lounge


Jillian Koenig ('24)

The peaceful, aesthetic decorations at Olive Nail Lounge.

Often when we hear the word “relaxing,” we are immediately transported to a spa. We associate the word “spa” with the words “relaxing” and “calming.” Personally, I consider a nail salon a spa, and my experience at Olive Nail Lounge in Cherry Hill certainly lived up to the spa’s expectations.
On entering the nail salon, I was greeted by the friendly employees at the front desk and instructed to wash my hands and choose a color. After opting for light pink, I followed an employee to her station where she did a beautiful job on my nails.
Along with freshly manicured nails, I also left Olive with a sense of ease and calmness. The environment that Olive provides its customers with is comforting and a perfect place to de-stress.
I can accurately say that my experience at Olive was one that reduced my stress. I walked in with the weight of lots of homework and tests on my back and walked out feeling free from this heavy load.
I attribute my de-stressing experience to the calming and comforting environment Olive provided me. The nail salon is decorated very modernly with lots of cool tones that I definitely think create this relaxing atmosphere.
“I think the colors of the salon, the music, it doesn’t smell like a nail salon [contribute to the relaxing environment at Olive],” employee Shayna Cohen said.
Cohen believes that a calming environment is crucial for a nail salon to be as relaxing as possible for its customers.
While the environment at Olive certainly contributed to my pleasant experience, I think that no matter what nail salon you go to, you will be able to experience the same benefits and relaxation that I experienced because getting your nails done is simply a calming activity that eases the mind.

Color Me Mine


Shayna Oppen ('24)

Shayna’s creation from Color Me Mine.

Color Me Mine is the perfect place to relax and de-stress. It’s the best activity to do alone, or with a group of friends. The ambiance is serene and calming, which makes you feel at peace. The entire experience is amazing, and the staff are extremely helpful. I was nervous to go to Color Me Mine as a completely non-artistic person, but in the end, it was a fun, calming activity.
When talking to a customer, they said, “I come here whenever I need to calm down and forget about everyday life.”
The staff said the entire experience is used to make you happy and focused on something that doesn’t cause stress. I recommend going with your friends and just enjoying the relaxing experience.
The prices are very reasonable and the activity doesn’t take up a lot of time as well. Also, you get to go home with your very own creation! Whether it’s a mug or a plate, they are all customizable. Color Me Mine also provides customers with the option of making amazing personal gifts. The entire experience is what you make of it and can help clear your mind.
Color Me Mine is also in a great location where you can make a day out of it. Color Me Mine is in a shopping center with restaurants, a nail salon, and a movie theater.
My overall experience was great. I went there having a stressful week, and while it wasn’t life-changing, it was nice to relax for a little while. Whether you are artistic or not, it’s truly a great option if you are looking for a fun, calming activity.

Rage Room


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Smashing objects to relieve stress in a rage room.

Going to a rage room was the best experience. I always wanted to go to one, but I never knew if it was worth it. In the end, going to a rage room is not just an old TikTok trend. If you want to diminish all stress and anger, there is no better place to go.
The entire place is set up to comfort you. A rage room is a place where the staff want you to feel better after your session. Each session is a private experience where you are alone or with a friend or two. The room is completely destructible and is made for you to take out your anger. Everyone wears protective gear and really just channels what’s going on in their life into a huge experience.
Attending a rage room is such a unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else. It is the only place I have seen where you are told to take a baseball bat and hit a TV as hard as you can.
The staff member said, “the room was created to be your mess.”
I took this to heart while going through this process. It’s so therapeutic to channel everything that’s going on in your life into one room. This activity was so fun and so calming all at the same time. The price is completely reasonable as well. I entered the rage room filled with stress, anxiety, and anger, and I walked out not completely healed, but feeling way happier.

How to cope with stress


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Many high school students struggle to cope with stress due to the amount of homework and extracurriculars they have to balance.

High school students have difficult schedules. The school day starts early, afternoons are filled with extracurricular activities and part-time jobs, and evenings are filled with homework and studying that can easily last until very late at night. It is easy to understand why school is a heavy contributor to stress. With all of the pressure that students face, it’s important to acknowledge the sources of stress, break work into manageable parts so that everything gets done, and set aside time each day for things that bring happiness and help reduce stress.
Results from a recent Google Form survey sent to East students indicate that most students who responded to the survey feel overwhelmed by school everyday. While there are many causes for students being overwhelmed, students cited several factors about the culture at East that affect their stress levels. These include a lack of sleep, anxiety about grades, and unrealistic quiz and test schedules.
East student Alexis Rovner (‘26) states how “tests and [essays] cause the most stress because it takes a lot of studying to feel adequately prepared and confident in [herself].”
At East, students are often overwhelmed by both the amount of homework and the level of detail required to complete their assignments. Many students are not able to start homework until late in the evening due to extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, or because they need a break to recharge after a long school day. Even after a full day of school and activities, East students may need to spend several hours doing homework and studying. This stressful schedule often leads to a continuous cycle of inadequate sleep, with few high school students getting the suggested 8-plus hours of sleep recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Students also face constant stress about grades. Many students that responded to the Google Form survey noted that tests are the most stress-provoking aspect of school. On any normal day, students can expect to be graded on assignments, essays, and for participation in just about every class. Moreover, this does not take into account the ongoing pressures caused by bigger assessments including the SAT/ACT exams, AP tests, and final exams.
Another stressful aspect of student life is the lack of scheduling and notice about tests and quizzes. Most students at East can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed with tests in every class during the last week of the marking period.
So you may be asking yourself, what can students do to feel less stressed out by school?
Exercising is a great way to release stress by gaining endorphins. Playing school sports or simply taking a walk outside will help with physical and mental health. A little natural sunlight can improve your outlook on life.
Playing with a pet is a stress relief resource that should not be overlooked. Animals have a calming effect on people, and they do not ask for much other than attention. If you are feeling stressed, take a little time to throw a ball with your dog. Time spent with your pet is sure to bring some fun into your day.
Journaling is an effective tool to express emotions healthily. By writing out your emotions, you can release pent-up stress. When people put their thoughts into words, it can help them to focus and clear their minds.
Reading a non-school-related book or magazine can help you to unwind. Reading is a great way to relax before bed. It is also convenient and useful at any time.
Talking with friends and family is a great stress reliever. It is crucial for students to spend time talking with other people so they don’t get overwhelmed by the pressure of high school. Sometimes you need to rant, sometimes you need to laugh, and sometimes you need advice. Sharing with trusted people in your life can help to reduce stress and keep things in perspective.
East student Aline Tang (‘25) explains how she “will always ask [her] friends or peers for help with certain things [she is] having trouble with…[she is] most stressed when [she does] not understand a unit or understand homework, and [she gets] rid of [the] stress by asking a friend for help.”
Stress is a part of modern high school life, but it is important to remember to engage in self-care that helps you stay connected to others, brings you happiness, and helps to reduce your stress level.

Which de-stressing strategy is best for you?

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