Just how many times have we heard of fellow high school students caving in to the pressures that are part and parcel of our age group? Pulling all-nighters, consuming multiple mugs of coffee to keep drowsiness at bay and taking short power naps instead of sleeping for the recommended 8 hours; these are not unheard of in the life of a high schooler. After all, how else can they manage to complete the plethora of tasks assigned to them within a span of twenty-four hours?
Students need to excel in academics, participate in myriad extracurricular activities, compile visually appealing projects, deliver effective presentations and attend tuitions, all in a day’s time. If that doesn’t make stress a permanent fixture throughout their schooling years, there’s always the added duty of spending daily quality time with family, maintaining one’s social life and sleeping for a good eight hours when all the aforementioned have been achieved.
In our pursuit of achieving all the above, the one thing that undoubtedly makes a foray into our lives is pressure. Students deal with pressure in various ways. Some bottle it up inside them, some try to find a solution to their misery, some have nervous outbursts and some others turn rebellious.
Research on how students manage stress divides coping into two broad categories. The first type of coping is problem-focused wherein a problem is tackled directly at its source, such as asking one’s class teacher to switch one’s group in case the rest of the group is relying on that one student to complete the project. The second type is emotion-focused in which one manages one’s emotions when one cannot or chooses not to address the underlying source of the problem.
Here are the findings of a survey conducted among grade 12 students of our school:
- 84% students face stress mostly due to academic reasons.
- 54% students perform worse at school under pressure.
- 95% students get less than 8 hours of sleep, with nearly 60% sleeping less than 6 hours on an average school day.
- 32% students choose to bottle up any tension they might have,
- 30% ignore the issue at hand,
- 27% talk about it to someone close and
- 11% vent their frustration out on others.
Student burnout becomes very common as students enter the senior grades. The pressure they face causes unhealthy levels of stress. When this happens, students start losing the motivation to work hard, fall sick more than usual and lose the energy and enthusiasm to learn. They procrastinate, fall behind on their coursework and become mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.
Academic pressure is hard to completely wipe off at the high school level, but students can manage it and take it in their stride by taking care of a few factors:
Always have a positive mindset that enables you to believe that your goals are attainable. The way you think about things can make all the difference in how you react to events that can impact your life.
Eating well increases your physical, mental, and emotional stamina. Fueling yourself with nutritious food boosts your health, making you feel better about yourself and ready to take on the challenges of school life.
Before you snort and brand physical activity as something you can’t imagine having time for, you should recall Edward Stanley’s famous words: “Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” There will be many important things in life that you might not necessarily have time for, but will need to make time for by sacrificing or cutting down on the less important things, and with your health topping your priority list, there’s no question of you not having time to care for it. Moreover, physical activity reduces stress and wards off anxiety and feelings of depression.
FIND TIME FOR ME-TIME
Sometimes all you need to balance out a hectic schedule is a little me-time. Make yourself a priority. Sit by yourself for at least 10 minutes each day. Practise deep breathing. Observe the world from your balcony. Go for a brisk walk around the block.
Student life revolves primarily around two spheres: academic and personal. Your personal life is composed of relationships. The people close to you largely impact your moods, behaviour and decisions. Some relationships even influence how you handle other relationships. For instance, a healthy and open relationship with your parents will ensure that you block out negative relations from your life. Maintaining good relations with friends, teachers and parents eases stress as you know you have a support system to back you up in times of crisis.
This is the term most oft-repeated by teachers to senior students. It is also the keyword that binds all the other factors listed above. Most students lose out on sleep as a consequence of the various undertakings ordained to be completed in one day. The solution is not to cut down on your sleep, but to manage time effectively, however cliché and drab it might sound. Plan out a daily agenda, allotting time for each of the tasks that need to be completed and if you find that it extends past your ideal bedtime, then slack some time off television or computer time.
Mrs. Rosy George, senior English teacher, shares some ways of dealing with stress, reiterating some of the factors mentioned above, “When a particular situation stresses you out, remember to keep cool and practice breathing exercises. In general, getting good sleep and eating nutritious food on time helps one deal with daily pressure.” She also speaks about the impact that stress can have in a student’s life, saying, “There are some students who perform well under pressure. For them, the academic pressure they face plays a positive role, but for others, sadly, it has a negative impact.”
All said and done, students need to accept the fact that stress will have varying degrees of occurrence in their lives and they need to learn to conquer it and emerge victorious.
By Amal Anwar Yousuf
The Editorial Board Member of Light House