Students require resources to build stress-relieving and coping skills

From uncomfortable interactions with sworn enemies to lectures from authority figures, Students are often put into situations they’d rather not be in.

From uncomfortable interactions with sworn enemies to lectures from authority figures, Students are often put into situations they’d rather not be in. Unfortunately, it’s rarely an option to simply walk away. To some extent, there’s an expectation that young people stand and suffer whatever stressful conversations-turned lectures that society throws their way. At some point in their lives, who hasn’t sat through someone going through the same points over and over again, paying more attention to the lint on their left shoulder than their droning? For students unable to leave stressful situations, finding stress-relief options that work non-disruptively would significantly reduce harm.

As teens approach adulthood, increasingly busy schedules and social obligations can lead to more stress. While older adults have stress-relief skills honed over the years, teens are less experienced, making it especially important that school supports them over these four years. 

Here at Berkeley High School, if students are stressed enough, they can use one of BHS’ mental health counseling services, such as the Wellness and Health Centers. However, the mental health messaging students receive around BHS doesn’t provide many specific mechanisms to alleviate the low-grade stress experienced daily and in the moment, and they aren’t easy to find, either. Additionally, the tips and tricks learned by students as freshmen may be forgotten by junior year when the stress reaches its peak. BHS offers generous crisis management. While this is good, it addresses the result more than the cause. A streamlined resource for everyday use would be vital for struggling students and act as a preventative.

As it stands, students already use a variety of coping mechanisms, whether they realize it or not: a walk with a friend to get away from the hustle and bustle of fourth period, or turning to their phone when they can’t handle thinking about that argument from last night. These all can be methods to relieve stress, though some are only temporary and others disrupt learning. As a school, we must recognize these as necessary, on occasion.

However, students can also resort to more harmful means of relieving stress and anxiety, including self-harm. According to the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, this is especially common among teens and often happens in response to stress. Vaping, drinking, and other drugs are other ways some students attempt to unwind. 

Beyond that, according to the Mayo Clinic, stress can have profound impacts on health, increasing the risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, and more. Reducing stress would improve the lives of most, if not all students. 

To help resolve this, a cohesive framework for destressing, in an easily accessible place online, would add some relief. The handouts and slideshows currently used are much easier to forget and lose, especially as students reorganize their binder and reshuffle subjects. Solutions don’t have to be rooted in new programs­ — creating systems that allow for support between peers will be helpful as well. Currently, some teachers have mindfulness sessions, another helpful tool. The Wellness Center offers a place for students to go in stressful situations, but many may not feel comfortable leaving the classroom. But either way, unified action, and empowering students with tools to create a toolset on their own will help them long beyond high school. 

For now, consider: can you escape the conversation, or make it less boring? Once students identify one of many sources of stress, it can be helpful to resolve, rethink, or distract from the problem. And of course, venting to some friends tends to help as well. In these changing times, knowing how to relieve some pressure is a skill well worth having.