End of school year + final tests = Stress
As the end of the school year approaches many students are experiencing more stress, not less. Time is getting short to tackle late assignments, write those end-of-year papers, hand in those final projects, give presentations, and prepare for exams.
At the same time, many are taking part in sports, recitals, theater productions, and other end of the year activities, and looking for summer jobs as well. No wonder many students feel overwhelmed and exhausted.
In fact, three quarters (75%) of American high schoolers and half of middle schoolers described themselves as “often or always feeling stressed” by schoolwork.
Stress is your body’s response to pressure. It is often triggered when you’re experiencing something new and have little control over a situation, or when you encounter something that threatens you. Stress is something we all experience. However, too much stress can affect your health, escalating anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle tension and pain, and more. That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with life’s stressors.
Is there such thing as good stress?
Yes! “Good stress,” or what psychologists refer to as “eustress,” is the type of stress we feel when we’re excited. For example, that feeling you get at the top of a roller coaster, poised for a wild ride ahead, or the energy you feel when you’re near the finish line during a race. These exciting moments are what make us feel vibrant and excited about life. Without good stress, our lives might be bland, boring, and even unhappy.
When you view stress as a challenge instead of a threat, this change in perspective allows you to more easily manage the pressure. Think of your stress as an opportunity to prove to yourself what you’re capable of accomplishing. Knowing how to overcome your stress during difficult situations helps you focus on your tasks, stay calm, and avoid focusing on all of the bad things that could happen.
When it comes to relieving stress, it’s about figuring out what works for you. Here are some suggestions to try out:
- Get organized. We understand that getting and staying organized can be hard work but creating a to-do list will help reduce the sense of drain and chaos that you feel as due dates approach. Note the due dates of all your tasks and add them to your calendar, together with your schedule. Don’t forget to include class time, assignment preparation, study time, tests, group meetings, and extra-curricular obligations like practices, babysitting, job shifts, home chores, etc.
- Manage your time. Your organizational efforts will pay off with a visual aid to help you plan your work time, avoid overbooking yourself, and find time to hang out with friends, exercise, and do other activities. So instead of waking up without a plan and spending your day doing things whenever you feel like it, try time blocking. Time blocking helps you make productive use of your day, by working during the hours when you feel most focused and engaged. As you plan your time, think realistically about how long each task will take, and schedule studying, papers writing, and assignments for a time of day when you work most effectively. Use other less effective times of the day for exercise, chores, or fun with friends. If you are a morning person, schedule those hours to produce your best work, and vice versa if you feel most focused after lunch. This way, time will always work with you and not against you.
- Practice deep breathing. The symptoms of stress can vary depending on the person, but in periods of high stress, be mindful of your body’s needs. Deep breathing strengthens full oxygen exchange and helps slow down your heart rate. The result? Relaxation. Even though breathing comes naturally to us, exercising deep breathing takes practice and conscious effort. Here are some techniques to try at home or during a walk.
- Keep it positive. When you are stressed, how do you talk to yourself and others? Does being stressed turn you into a jerk? If your stress causes you to take out your frustration on others and sometimes yourself – that is not okay. When you feel like your stress is about to burst out of control, try taking a deep breath and remember to adjust your tone and your self-talk. You can say things like “Thank you for your help, but I just need to be alone for a minute” when you’re talking to others or “I can do this” when talking to yourself.
- Exercise. No surprise here! Exercising is a great way to release tension and stress. When you exercise, your focus on something other than your stressful work or school day, allowing you to return to your tasks with a clear head. Exercise also releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals in the brain) which is why you feel good after working out. So next time you’re stressed out, try going for a walk or run, doing yoga, kickboxing, or whatever form of exercise helps you blow off that steam.
Stress videos to watch:
- How we cope with anxiety & stress by MTV’s Teen Code https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qnYXCLk5bQ
- How to make stress your friend by Kelly McGonigal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU
- Relieve stress & anxiety with simple breathing techniques https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odADwWzHR24
Need more Help?
If you or a loved one are overwhelmed and having a hard time coping with stress, consider talking to a mental health professional. Find a safe person and space in which to talk. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with an understanding and welcoming environment for you and your family. Take that important first step and ask for help.
The Bougainvilla House also offers Parenting Workshops to provide tools and strategies that support healthy families and nurture future generations as they grow.
Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337.