Illustration by Leo Gordon
It’s been six weeks since school started, and by now most students have settled into their routines. Unfortunately, many of those routines result in a substantial amount of stress. Many students, especially juniors and seniors, are incredibly busy with college applications, homework and extracurriculars, and many of my classmates report regularly staying up until 1 am or 2 am.
With this overwhelming amount of work, many students wonder how they can avoid the stress that often comes with it. When asked how she dealt with stress, one sophomore said she “pretended it didn’t exist.” For most students, stress can’t be completely avoided, but it can be reduced or mitigated.
First of all, it’s important to not set your standards too high. There are a lot of phenomenal students at BHS. They take six Advanced Placement classes, or single-handedly organize multiple clubs, or run charities in their spare time. This behavior is healthy for them, but those students are in a minority. They don’t set the standard for hard work, they vastly exceed it. You don’t have an obligation to do as much as them. If you want to, you can and should, but you don’t have to.
On a similar note, don’t try and change the unchangeable. If you do badly on an exam or screw up an assignment, that’s done. It’s a shame, and you should try to do better in the future, but it’s done. There’s no point in stressing about it now; the things that matter give us enough stress already, we shouldn’t be agonizing over things that don’t.
It can also help to detach yourself from the stress. When you are stressed, don’t get caught up in how bad it is. Look at it as a temporary sensation rather than a crisis. This doesn’t help you solve the source of the stress, but it can make stress easier to deal with.
Another way to mitigate stress is to avoid procrastination. To reduce stress, you have to deal with the problem head on. This is easier said than done. If you have unfinished work, it’ll loom over you and stress you out until it’s done. It’s easy to procrastinate, but in the long run it’s better to bite the bullet and get things out of the way as soon as you can. To motivate yourself to do this, try mentally pledging to work non-stop for a set period of time. Otherwise, you may be tempted to take a break and end up taking breaks most of the day until you finish your work at midnight. Procrastination is difficult, but can be reduced with self-discipline.
This advice might not be true for everyone. Different people have different needs, and deal with stress in different ways. This is just what works for me, and what will hopefully work for you as well.
High school is a stressful time. That’s always going to be true. But with discipline and self-knowledge, you can reduce this stress and have a much happier life.