High school, as most known, is the ultimate stress factor in the life of a teenager. Constantly, students are bombarded with overwhelming assignments, going to part or full-time jobs, handling extracurricular clubs, and so many other activities. All of these engagements contribute a significant amount of stress and pressure to a student’s life… so it seems that stress is completely inevitable, right?
Not under my watch. As a high school student myself, I too am often pressured under all of the work that I have to do and sometimes wonder how I am going to get everything done. After living in the realm of high school for two full years, I have generated five “De-stress” tools that have helped me balance and control my high school schedule. Students at Garnet Valley High School will certainly feel more confident, less overwhelmed, and have happier attitudes if they begin to incorporate these five tips into their daily lives.
De-Stressor #1: Time Management
The concept of time management has truly helped me succeed as a student throughout the years. I am very Type A and tend to study way too many hours for the same class over and over again. But what I have started to learn my junior year of high school is that simply going over the same material for hours at a time is more of a hurt than it is a help. Overstudying often causes students to blend certain concepts and material from one class with other material from that exact same class, and by doing so, they become confused and question information that they had known to the dot days before. This overstudying process can also manipulate students into reading too in-depth into the material; often times when this issue occurs, students struggle on exams and assignments because they have overly specific, unnecessary details engrained in their minds and the basic reviewing material has been pushed to the back of their brains where it has difficulty resurfacing. Many students that have experienced “overstudying mode” are well aware that tests they overstudied for often do not produce the best results; these students should have stopped studying once they understood the reviewing material rather than digging a ditch for themselves and finding they cannot climb out of it. Time management is key and plays a role in balancing all of the activities that high school students are a part of.
Let us say, for example, that a student plays volleyball, is part of Interact Club, and has AP Biology, Precalculus, and Honors English for his or her core subjects for the fall semester. This student appears to have a very overwhelming schedule, but it is only overwhelming if he or she makes it that way. Instead of the student spending four hours studying for AP Biology and stressing how he or she is going to fit the three hours of community service in for that night along with two hours of volleyball, the student could time manage. How about two hours for AP Biology of progressive study rather than two hours of studying and two hours of reviewing the exact same material? That way the student will have time to get his or her other schoolwork, sport, and service completed without feeling as pressured. What I have learned from being at the high school is that achieving success on tests and in classes does not result from how long one studies but rather how comprehensively he or she studies. Students will be able to much more easily balance their lives once they realize that shorter, deliberate study is more practical and will lead them to more success than long, monotonous study.
De-Stressor #2: Take Breaks
It is important for high school students to take breaks during study time. Five or ten minutes of pause between schoolwork is critical in the act of lowering stress. The pause could simply be heading into the kitchen for a snack or standing up and walking around to increase blood flow. Even closing one’s eyes and taking deep breaths will relieve any tension and pressure. Many high school students feel that taking breaks will hinder their studying progress, but these pauses are actually more beneficial than not pausing at all. By taking breaks in between studying, not only do students feel less stressed afterward but their brains have time to process all of the information from their studying and the ability to retain and recall that material for upcoming exams and assignments becomes rapidly easier.
De-Stressor #3: Studying Notes Aloud
Now I know that this next one seems downright silly, but in my experience with this third process, it has actually worked quite well. For classes that high school students take a lot of notes in, such as social studies or science, in order to better understand the material, talking does the trick. Sometimes when students study and try to interpret the information in their heads, the material either does not make sense or the students become distracted as their mind conjures memories of the day and various things that the students must do that night.
When one reads their notes aloud, it is much easier for that student to focus on the material at hand and comprehend the information. I have found in my years at the high school that the best place to study is in a quiet area where I will not become distracted or disturbed, such as my bedroom or office. These quiet places are great spaces to read notes aloud, as one will only hear his or herself and will rationally be able to decipher his or her study notes. This will, most importantly, lower stress, as students will feel confident in the material they have studied as well as with the notion that it is not always impossible to prevent “mind wandering”.
De-Stressor #4: Say “NO!” to Cellphones
This fourth topic is definitely one of the more difficult concepts for high school students in this generation to grasp. I myself have trouble keeping my phone out of reach while doing schoolwork and studying. Often, high school students need some sort of technological device, like a computer or phone, while doing schoolwork. I understand this completely and am not telling students who need to look something up to not finish their homework by putting their devices out of sight; rather, I am advising them to put their technology away when they do not need it.
What often happens is students start to study, but their phones buzz right next to them and they feel compelled to pick their phones up. They scroll through Twitter, “like” images on Instagram, and take selfies on Snapchat… now an hour, two hours, even maybe more than that has gone by, and now the students are stressed out because they have all of the remaining schoolwork to do. Unless students strictly need their phones and laptops for schoolwork, saying “NO!” to these devices and putting them out of sight is very much suggested. That way, students have the time they need in order to complete their schoolwork and are not stressed hours later because they wasted crucial time on their phones and/or other technological devices.
De-Stressor #5: Staying Positive
I have saved this de-stressor for last because without a doubt, this strategy has helped me through everything during my high school years, from school to dance to all of my other extracurricular activities. Staying Positive… it sounds easy, but unfortunately, most teenagers are not consistent with it. Students tend to act positively when things go right, such as acing a test or getting to bed on time or performing well in a sport or instrumental activity. However, all of these happy feelings dissipate in a flash when the world turns upside down and things go wrong. When the test is not a good score and the sleeping period is more like a three-hour rest and the sport or instrumental activity goes terribly, all of a sudden that student’s life has gone from white to black, and his or her stress levels skyrocket. The negative feelings of anger, self-pity, exhaustion, and pain begin to swarm forth like buzzing bees and the student feels as if he or she has no control.
Positivity is the key to success, as it significantly lowers stress and draws students away from feelings of hopelessness and agony. Obviously, jovial, pleasant feelings cannot study for students or complete their schoolwork, but they can help students relax while working and draw even more positive energy to students through events, situations, and thoughts. These positive sensations will carry students through the high school process as long as those students continue thinking and behaving positively and keep themselves from falling into the depths of despair and becoming stressed. In addition, positivity acts like a long chain in the case that if one person jumps onto the “positivity link”, other students, teachers, and staff will feel those auspicious vibes and hop onto the chain as well; this “positivity link” will increasingly help students, as well as their high school environment, become more uplifted and encouraging.
In order to de-stress, students have to be positive. In order to succeed and live great lives, students have to be positive. Even when everything seems to go wrong, students have to be positive, because positivity is the ultimate de-stressor.
So students, do not wait until tomorrow to start practicing these five “De-stress” tips… start today… start right now.