How to Manage Your Stress

Stress can be worrying, but there are healthy ways to overcome it.

We’re currently living in a time where much of the world is divided by opposing ideas, beliefs, and aspirations. However, if there’s one thing that nearly everyone can agree on, we’ve all got plenty of stress in our lives.

As high school students with one foot in the clutches of adolescence and the other on the cusp of adulthood, many of us have worries about the present and the future. Whether it’s a big test to study for or the daunting task of numerous college applications to complete, we’ve got a fair amount of pressure to succeed. However, as daunting as all this seems, there are several ways to cope.

According to a 2014 study by the American Psychological Association, 18 percent of teenagers feel a greater amount of stress when they don’t get enough sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for teens is eight to ten hours, according to the National Sleep foundation. As sleep-deprivation has been shown to have direct effect on stress levels, one major way to alleviate such emotional states can be to increase the amount of sleep received on a nightly basis. This can involve managing after-school extracurriculars and homework in order to ensure an earlier available bedtime. It can also involve turning off electronics at least a half-hour before sleeping to avoid the negative impacts of light from screens on sleep. Sleep provides increased energy and rest and can keep some unnecessary anxiety away.

Another way to deal with stress is to engage in breathing exercises. When utilizing deep, slow breathing, one’s body becomes more relaxed and less panicky, making it easier to tackle stressful situations. These exercises can be used to calm down from a state of heightened anxiety by slowing down the breathing and heart rate to a more normal and sustainable level.

Additionally, surrounding oneself in a friendly environment whenever possible can prove to decrease stress and anxiety. Some people achieve this by listening to their favorite music, watching a beloved television show, or spending time with family and friends. Reaching out to a support system of people who care about your well-being can reassure you that even in difficult times, there will always be people willing to help. At Glenbard West, in stressful times, you can visit the guidance office or school psychologists for assistance in tackling any pressures you may be facing.

Personally, as a senior this year, I have felt an increased amount of stress in my life as I am contemplating my future college and career plans. At many times throughout this semester, the anxiety of impending adulthood has felt rather overwhelming and frightening. The uncertainty of current events around the world and their potential effects on daily life in the U.S. also contribute a fair amount of worry. However, as insurmountable as these pressures may seem at times, they do not last forever and utilizing various stress management techniques has helped me to remember this and to better cope.

On the whole, some stress in daily life can be beneficial. It can provide motivation to do one’s best in their work and to seek achievement and success both in and beyond school. However, when this tension begins to overwhelm one’s life and interfere with completing necessary tasks, that is when it can become harmful and dangerous. Whenever life gets a bit too overwhelming, it is important to remember that there are many ways to help alleviate stress and that things can and will get better eventually we are patient and remain strong.