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Dealing With School-Related Stress

The following is brought to you by 21CCCS junior, Hannah Bisbing. Stay tuned for more blogs to come from Hannah!
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It’s that lovely time of the school year again: the middle of May. With just a few weeks of high school classes left, students are spastically attempting to finish their projects, papers, and exams. I’m sure many are also downing way too many cups of coffee and being too busy to sleep, both of which I am also guilty. The overflow of work that consumes many high schoolers at this point can be extremely frustrating, horribly nerve-racking, and supremely stressful. Take it from me: Within the past two weeks, I have taken three AP exams, my AP Psych Final, completed multiple AP English Lit projects (including writing a play and reading four others), worked on an Honors Physics paper, completed four chapters of Pre-Calculus, AND taken all three Keystone tests. Let’s just say I’ve had more than a few bouts of stress-inspired angst. Unsurprisingly, stress is not just a hassle to deal with, but also the gateway to physical/mental exhaustion. Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can relieve school related stress. Here are a few suggestions:

Take a walk:

“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Hooray for the feel-good power of endorphins! Step away from your books and computers to take a brisk walk outside. Getting away from the cycle of reading, writing, and researching to gaze upon nature and to get some fresh air really clears you head. Personally, I find that I can think clearer and more openly after a walk, so I actually work better in the long run.


“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap”
– Carrie Snow

Sometimes, the best way to refuel and to work more efficiently is to sleep. Taking a brief nap can recharge your brain, untangle confused thoughts, and enable you to tackle difficult work better than you would in a vexed, sleep-deprived state.

Take a hot bath:

“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”
–Sylvia Plath

Step into a really hot bath, lie down, and relax yourself completely. Breathing in the steam warms you up, calms you down, and leaves you feeling unstressed and refreshed.

Read a dramatic piece of literature:

“Life is not a matter of having good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson

Reading classic tragedies like Oedipus Rex or Hamlet really gives your stress a sense of perspective. Most likely, the stress you are feeling is nothing compared to the dramatic horrors these characters experience. Unless you have indirectly killed a bunch of people through tormented, feigned madness or have accidentally married your birthmother, you should feel better than these unfortunate wretches.

Alternate between class assignments:

“There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.”
– Henry Kissinger

If you find yourself reading the same two sentences over and over again without retaining any of the words, experience extreme writer’s block, or get irritated over the tediousness of a particular task, exchange your current study with a different piece of homework. Work on a paper for a while, then do some math, and then read some history or science, etc. so you do not get stuck in an unproductive rut for one class. I find this tactic really helpful. Sometimes, I actually become really irritated with an assignment and want to stop doing work altogether, but switching between course subjects can really relieve this frustration and increase workflow. Of course, if you enjoy working one subject until exhaustion, do not shy away from your routine. Just make sure to work on more than one subject over the course of a few days!

Think about the moment when school will be over:

“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”
– Hans Selye

Even though school can seem dreadfully endless at this point of the year, studies of proton radiation, advanced trigonometry, comparative tone research papers, and finals will come to a conclusion! Imagine the freedom and possibility you will have as well as the amount of SLEEP you will get after the last day of school! Focus on this utterly joyous time and use its vision to fuel you motivation until June 6th.

Talk to someone:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look once in awhile, you could miss it.”
-Ferris Bueller

If stress is beginning to make you panicky, sick, or feel out of control, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone. Voicing your issues, concerns, or anxieties can make your freak-outs smaller and your to-do lists clearer. Just the act of talking pulls you out of your internal world of worry. Hang out with your friends, talk to your parents, or look to an understanding teacher like your learning coach. I cannot express how many panicked emails and calls Mrs. Vice has endured from me for the past two and a half years. No matter how stressed I was over things, she always managed to calm me down in a simplistic yet vicarious and humorous way and helped me through my struggles.

Just for kicks, I have also provided a list of coping methods you should NOT try:

• Randomly bursting into uncontrollable sobs in public
• Standing up on a library table to recite soliloquys about life’s woes and inadequacies
• Threatening to go back in time to kill Isaac Newton before he invented what we study today
• Convincing great writers from past centuries to create their brilliant pieces, but in a clearer and more concise manner
• Reading the Twilight saga. Pick some good pieces of writing, for literature’s sake!

Additional links:

• http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/06/10-yoga-poses-for-stress-_n_3000801.html
• http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/7_stress_busters_soothing_foods_and_calming_scents
• http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/6-strategies-for-relieving-stress-naturally/
• StressCartoons_hbisbing.docx