Steps to Coping with Stress – High School Students

According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 13- to 17-year-olds are experiencing stress at high levels. What’s the main source of this stress?

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Amulya Chirravuri, Writer

School tends to be the top stressor for teens while getting into a good college or deciding what to do after graduating comes next. For some teens, stress is a source of motivation to achieve, which can lead to growth, but for others, it can lead to emotional problems such as anxiety, sadness, irritability, and anger. Due to this, it is important to take a hard look at the stress that is being placed on teens and consider ways that this stress can be dealt with.

Stress can be “good” or “bad”. Some amount of “good” stress and tension can bring out the best in a teenager. “Bad” stress can cause headaches, nightmares, irritability, and fatigue. Feeling stress over prolonged periods leads to distress and this, in turn, leads to various diseases. It is very important for parents to teach teens the art of handling stress and tension.

How can you cope with bad stress?

1. Take time for self-care. 

Taking time to pause from the relentless pace of everyday life and enjoy creative activities that keep you from dwelling on or stressing over school pressures can go far in decreasing your stress levels.

2. Learn to change your thinking.

For example, when you start stressing about not finishing your project on time, your mind builds a case for why what you believe is going to happen or will happen. So, when combating negative thinking patterns, psychotherapists recommend coming up with specific examples to counter stressful thoughts. Think instead of concrete ways that you can create the time to work on a project, and how your previous line of thinking isn’t accurate.

3. Take assignments one baby step at a time.

Break your work down into manageable, bite-sized portions that feel less overwhelming than looking at the big picture. For example, if you have an essay to write that’s making you feel anxious, list the individual steps that lead to the destination of the essay being finished (finding sources, creating an outline, writing an intro), and the task will begin to feel less daunting.

4. Lower your goals.

This isn’t recommending you to be a slacker but high expectations can cause more stress. Instead of setting your goal to be getting the highest grade in the class, set a goal to feel satisfied with your performance.

5. Stay balanced during exam periods.

The importance of taking breaks and working in time to relax during your busiest and most stressful periods can’t be overestimated. No matter how hard you push yourself, nobody can maintain constant focus, and you will burn yourself out if you try. Take frequent, short breaks for fun activities so that you’ll be able to go back to your writing or studying refreshed.