A Wakeup Call on Stress

Students have many factors contributing to severe stress such as attendance standards and tough academics- why?

TEDx Talks

by Patrick Benedict, Copy Editor

Stress in Education

Stress is a word found common in conversations of things like homework, teachers, and school in general- which begs the question of why. Why are so many students affected by such large levels of stress outside the already-prevalent stressors of teenage life? Kathleen Smith of “psycom.net”, wrote an article on common triggers of stress, showing disheartening facts. According to Smith, “for teens, the most commonly reported sources of stress are school (83 percent), getting into a good college or deciding what to do after high school (69 percent), and financial concerns for their family (65 percent).” In addition, 40 percent of teens report feeling irritable or angry, 36 percent report feeling anxious or tired, and 31 percent report feeling overwhelmed due to stress in the past month.

 

How does attendance and sickness affect school stress?

Students across the country are currently worrying about the coronavirus epidemic sweeping the nation, and with public hysteria high, questions of sick students come to mind.

“People need to stop coming to school sick,” junior Whitney Newtown said “especially with the whole coronavirus situation.”

A recent New York Times article shows how students across the country are handling the epidemic, worrying about their old-age relatives, expressing their worries through transcripted conversations and creative output – haikus and the like. However, on the regulations side of things, some students consider coming to school anyway, despite being sick.

“With all of this in mind,” Newtown said, “we all still have to worry about attendance. I’ve come to school horribly sick many times, or even when I have injuries from Dance Line. I have to if I want to keep all the incentives that come with it. Also, we get punished really severely from it.”

 

How do extra-curricular activities affect stress?

Whitney, and a few others on Dance Line, have gone on record saying that it’s not just athletics and sports that can eat up a lot of time, but most extra-curricular activities that can cause problems, and these problems can even reach to things like theater.

“Extra-curricular activities eat up a lot of time that could be spent doing other things,” junior and active Pirate Players member Oliva Navarette said, “but we need those activities to fill up our college applications.”

For those struggling with finding the time, this article by Harry Kimbal with the Child Mind institute lists a few guiding principles for time management with extra-curricular activities.

 

How does school stress affect general mental health?

Despite these worries concerning time, individual concerns like mental health come to mind. Anxieties revolving around the nation sometimes are set aside for things like social anxiety.

“Social interaction and anxiety,” junior Ashley Kath “is, I think, a big thing students have to worry about. The people in general can be hard to talk with and carry out conversations, cause we’re teenagers, so we can be hard to relate to.”

In the same article by Kathleen Smith, she cited that 26 percent of students confess to have snapped at classmates when stressed in the last month, and 51 percent say someone tells them they seem stressed at least once a month. The National Association for Secondary School Principals exposes a general lacking in school-sponsored programs aiding students with mental health, citing that one in five high schools lack such basic things as a school counselor. In addition, according to the Dave Nee Foundation, 20-30 percent of teens report depression symptoms, while almost 9 percent of high school students have attempted suicide in the past year.

 

How do academics and time affect stress?

Then of course, there’s the obvious educational worries. Kath added to her comment, saying another big worry was “tests, definitely tests.” Speaking of educational worries, assignments other than tests are obviously known to cause stress.

“Teachers plan their assignments altogether, all at once,” junior Ellie Page said, “and we already have very little time to work with in terms of keeping ourselves sane while keeping good grades. Some of them need to realize they’re not our only class.”

With how little time students have, several students have confessed to getting little to no sleep and eating irregularly, as well as eating more unhealthy foods.

“We all need more sleep,” senior Sabrina Holtgrewe said, “and we’re all hungry by the end of the day- at least the people I know are.”

The same article states that 35 percent of teens report lying awake at night, 26 percent report overeating or eating unhealthy foods, and 23 percent report skipping meals due to stress in the past month.

 

Are there any solutions?

Another article by the Association for Children’s Mental Health shows that all is not lost, however, and shows that simple changes can aid these problems. Solutions such as better structuring of assignments, flexible deadlines, breaks, and allowing better student-teacher relationships can help students leaps and bounds.

 

Tim Gouw