Stressing over school: the silent killer of emotional stability

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Stressing over school: the silent killer of emotional stability

Student is stressed about many tasks to complete.

Student is stressed about many tasks to complete.

Hope Davidson

Student is stressed about many tasks to complete.

Hope Davidson

Hope Davidson

Student is stressed about many tasks to complete.

Simply stated, high schoolers are stressed. As a senior in high school, I can attest to this. Juggling rigorous academic work, family and friends, extracurricular activities, and sleep is a challenge and leads to high amounts of stress, which in turn, if untreated, can lead to health problems – including depression and anxiety.

Students are encouraged to work hard and receive good grades because it will make them more competitive when applying for colleges, but it’s easier said than done. In order to achieve a good grade in a class, a student must be attentive in said class for about an hour each day, complete homework and projects, as well as perform well on exams. And for a high school student, simply multiply that workload by 6 or 7, because many students (and some brave seniors)take a full-class schedule.

In addition to the academic load put on students, many are enrolled in Advanced Placement or honors class, which have a more vigorous workload. Speaking from personal experience, I enroll in advanced classes because I am told it will “make me more competitive for college”, not because I enjoying taking harder classes with more work. In my junior year, I took three advanced classes along with three normal level classes, and I typically spent 1-3 hours on homework every night. In addition with the 7 hours I spent at school, I spent over a third of the rest of my day on my academics.

On top of their already busy academic life, a multitude of students participate in clubs and sports, do volunteer work, or work a part-time job. Adding more activities to a busy schedule seems to only pile on more stress, so why do it? While some students may genuinely enjoy participating in these activities, there is a lot of societal pressure to take part in extracurricular activities because it will, once again, “make you more competitive for college”. Whatever the reason may be for joining these activities, students are likely to have less time for homework and focus on studying as well as achieving good grades, which will inevitably lead to overwhelming stress.

A college education is necessary for a majority of jobs on the market, so the push to attend a college is very prominent, primarily at Orcutt Academy, which is a college-prep school. Especially during junior and senior year, thinking about majors and applying to colleges only adds more stress to a high school students life. During high school, it sometimes feels as if everything you do only has one end goal: to get accepted into college; finding a balance between school life and personal life can be quite stressful as well.

But why is stress such an important issue? While a little bit of stress may actually be beneficial, studies have proven high levels of stress are detrimental to the mind and body, and high levels of stress are common among high school students.

In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, on a scale of 1 to 10, 5.8 was the average number teens used to describe their levels of stress. For comparison, adults averaged 5.1.

When one does not get enough sleep, they are more susceptible to stress, and high schoolers are well known for not getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends teens should be getting about 8 or 9 hours of sleep, but on average, they get less than 7 and a half hours per night. When a lack of sleep and already-existing stress are feeding off each other, students are bound to become even more stressed. High levels of stress can lead to depression or anxiety, and 20% of teens become depressed before they become an adult.

Stress is an evident issue among high school students due to pressures to participate in advanced classes and extracurricular activities in addition to the stress of family, friends, and the other problems of being a teenager. However, students are not doomed to death by stress; there are ways to lower it. Most students tend to procrastinate, which leads to big amounts of work in small periods of time. So by managing their time and sticking to a schedule, students may ease a bit of their stress.

One way the school staff can help students is by offering a study hall period for students who have a busy schedule. Students would be able to get a head start on work and prevent stress later in the day.

Stress greatly affects mental health, and if students and parents realize this, they can better take care of the their stress and mental health. This could be done by seeing a mental health professional, or by simply taking an occasional day off from school to recuperate and focus on one’s stress and mental health.

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