How to cope with stress

March 10, 2023


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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.

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