‘Stress’ is an emotion many of us experience in our teenage years… especially during the build up to tests and exams. But what can we do to take control of these emotions and feel better within ourselves?
Shocking statistics revealed…In a recent study by the American Psychological Association, 83% of teens said that school was “a somewhat or significant source of stress’ in their lives. Negative stress goes on to affect teenagers’ health with 32% experiencing headaches, 21% having upset stomach or indigestion, and 23% saying they had skipped a meal because of stress. It doesn’t have to be this way. Action can be taken, and needs to be taken, to improve the situation.
Why are young people so stressed?A big cause of stress is ‘overwhelm’… feeling like there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it. We’ve lost count of the number of students who say they feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in all their school work, extracurricular activities and have a social life. With so much to do, how do you decide what’s most important and what you’re going to do first?
“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” Oprah Winfrey Billionaire Media Mogul & Philanthropist
What do your priorities need to be?A lot of people prioritise the things they enjoy doing. Which means they are likely to watch TV, hang out with friends, play computer games, interact on social media, and do other fun stuff. Schoolwork is unlikely to be the first thing (or even the second or third thing) on many teenagers’ lists of favourite things to do! So we put off work in favour of more enjoyable activities. This often leads to a build-up of assignments and homework that teachers start demanding. The thought of having to complete so much last minute work becomes a daunting prospect so many of us head off to bed and leave it all for another day.
Stop holding on to things longer than necessaryAn interesting analogy relating to stress is seeing how long you can hold a glass of water straight out in front of yourself… The longer you hold on to the glass, the more difficult the task becomes, regardless of how much water it contains. Sooner or later, the task becomes a burden. As time passes the glass of water seems to become heavier and heavier, even though it’s the same glass of water you started with. If we relate this to the work we have to do for school, the longer you put off, the harder it can become to actually deal with it.
Simple solutions for dealing with stressThere are so many simple solutions for managing stress. Here are a few suggestions:
- As soon as you get some homework… just do it! Whenever possible, avoid leaving tasks until the night before they are due. Putting things off increases stress. It also increases the likelihood you’ll rush the task and produce poor work, which leads to poor grades.
- Draw up a study timetable. Being able to see a clear plan with all your schoolwork and social plans makes it easier to get things done without getting overwhelmed.
- Try doing little bits of schoolwork, and often, rather than trying to cram it all in to one incredibly long stress-filled session. This makes it more manageable and easier to cope with.
- Physical exercise and getting enough sleep are really important too. Not only will these habits provide great benefits for your physical health, but they are proven to reduce stress too.
- Talk to someone about the challenges you’re facing. As the saying goes, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” All schools have a counsellor or trained staff that want to help you, so take full advantage of this.