Although high school is fun and exciting, it is also very likely to be stressful. The stress comes in various forms such as trying to do well in exams, forging friendship with school peers, transitioning from adolescent stage to adulthood, managing parents’ expectations and more. If stress is not managed properly, it could lead to depression. According to The Dave Nee Foundation (A foundation in New York, United States, whose mission is to eliminate the stigma associated with depression and suicide), between 20% – 30% of adolescents report symptoms of depression and almost 9 percent of high school students have attempted suicide in the past year. This points to the prevalence of depression among high school students and it is important to find ways to mitigate this issue and ensure students have the best support they can find.
Students can take some measures outlined below to manage stress and to maximize their well-being.
One of the best ways to manage stress is to manage time properly. Set up your own schedule and print it out, and post it in a prominent place in your room or dormitory to remind yourself. Buy a calendar to follow your goals and progress, or to develop the habit of using your mobile phone calendar. Mark the time or due date of exams or some important events, and prepare for these important events in advance. In addition, try to avoid procrastination. Delaying unfinished tasks will create more pressure.
Make a to-do-list in accordance to the importance and urgency of the matter, and then deal with them one by one in accordingly. Do not give yourself too much stress. Do not set unattainable goals such as completing 10 mock exam papers in a day. Set a realistic time management schedule and stick to it.
Find some hobbies
You can try to break the busy schedule through leisure activities. Hobbies can free you from stress and the daily mundane schedule. Draw, hike, swim, join a sports team or band, take dance lessons, cook with roommates, join a surfing or gardening club, etc. You may not get any outstanding results in these hobbies or receive meaningful insights, but the goal is to be relaxed and happy. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. The key is that you have time to enjoy outside of academic commitments and it is a good way to free your brain from studying.
Support from family and friends
When you are under pressure, it is important to seek support from friends and family. Let them actively encourage you and stimulate your enthusiasm and spirit. When you need to vent, call your parents or create a chat group with some friendly classmates to let off some steam. You may benefit from joining a student support group or asking a trusted friend to encourage and motivate you. Talk to people who can share, but remember not to pay too much attention to negative emotions.
Don’t succumb to the temptation of isolating yourself as it may result in depression if not carefully dealt with. Remember to talk to someone if you are out and down.
Maintain a good lifestyle
When you are stressed and busy, sometimes it is easy to neglect your lifestyle. However, maintaining a good lifestyle is the most indispensable and important factor in relieving stress. Therefore, be sure to:
Get plenty of rest. You can create a schedule as described above to schedule enough sleep (7-9 hours per night). It is best to follow the “normal rest rule” and you should not stay up late and then sleep till the afternoon.
Cultivate a healthy eating habit. Cut down on junk food and sugary drinks. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The meals in the school cafeteria are often relatively healthy, or you can learn to cook some nutritious and delicious meals.
Get in motion. Exercising is an excellent mood booster and pressure reducer. Find a running partner, join a sports team, do some laser tag.
Strictly control the intake of caffeine even if you are extremely tired. Too much caffeine can cause energy breakdown and make you more susceptible to stress. Whenever possible, drink plenty of water.
Try to speak up and ask for help
No matter what your source of stress is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If school work is weighing down on your and it is too difficult for you to handle, seek help from your teacher to solve the problem or find a classmate who can tutor you. Ask your college cousins or friends how they coped with high school stress. Find a personal tutor in the subject you are weak at. If you would prefer to remain anonymous, there are various online support groups such as Oregon YouthLine and National Safe Place that will enable you to do just that!
If your stress level starts to affects your quality of life, you may want to consider going for counseling. You will benefit from receiving third-party help as these counselors are trained at their job to remain professional and their goal is to help you.