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Why am I so stressed? And what to do.

by Sam DeLeon

What would you guess are the biggest sources of stress for high school students? Drumroll...If you said SCHOOL, you are right. No surprise there, but the #2 and #3 slots might--Getting into a good college/plans after high school and family financial concerns respectively. Throw in social lives, extracurricular activities, and emotional/mental factors and it's very clear that teens are under a LOT of stress. It's more important now than ever to get a good handle on self-care and stress management to set the stage for a good work-life balance going forward.

How to manage stress for students

Did you know April is Stress-Awareness Month? I’m here to share the best ways for overwhelmed students to tackle stress.

Let’s be real we’ve ALL been stressed. I personally have been most stressed by the pressures of school, work, and balancing out my social life. It’s a lot (!), but I want you to know that you can do it! Here are a few tips that can contribute to overall well-being.

Managing Stress at School

  • Get ahead. Read and anticipate quizzes and reading assignments. Stay Organized by using a calendar so you can visually track where the heavy weeks will be. Falling behind will only add to your stress.

  • Talk to teachers and let them know that you’re interested in the class. Their expertise is for your benefit so ask questions, get to know them, and be honest if you are feeling overwhelmed or confused about the material. They are there to help!

  • Set time to study. Make this a daily habit and be consistent, even if nothing is due. Utilize CHUNK studying--setting aside a block of time to focus specifically on study-- so that you are more efficient and retain information better,

  • Use mnemonic devices to help you remember tricky material.

  • Get a study group with classmates you can trust. Split up work and teach it to each other. You'll remember things better this way. And bonus- it helps you maintain healthy social interactions.

Managing Stress In Relationships

  • Set a time to be at home with your family. Take advantage of meal times or lazy weekend mornings to bond with parents and siblings. Facetime your family and friends who are in other countries or across the country. Family is forever, and it's worth the effort to stay close.

  • Join a club you have an interest in and attend a meeting of a club you are just curious about. You might be surprised at what resonates with you.

  • Set a goal to meet a new friend every semester. Go out of your comfort zone. There are so many interesting people in the world and breaking out of your normal circle will enrich your life.

Managing Stress For Your Body/Soul

  • If you’re in a climate with heavy winters, EMBRACE the snow. Make a snowman, go skiing or ice skating. Do something that doesn’t give you cabin fever. There are many studies that prove the health benefits of daily fresh air. Include friends to bring more fun.

  • Go for a walk… do it often.

  • Drink WATER… it should be natural to do but some people just forget. Make it more exciting by picking out a new water bottle. Stanley, anyone?

  • Eat the rainbow. Your plate of food should be colorful. Start small by trying to include one fruit or vegetable at each meal.

  • Work out to the extent your body needs. This does not have to be intense to be beneficial. Yoga, stretching, walking, and dancing, in even 15-minute increments can do wonders for your health.

  • If you’re spiritual/religious, find your church, mosque, temple, etc. Even adding a meditation practice as a form of personal spirituality can help you maintain clarity and peace in your mind.

  • Volunteer. Getting outside of yourself can help you keep perspective, give you fulfillment, and help you feel connected to a larger community. You have unique gifts and talents, so use them for good!

Prioritize mental wellness

If you are not intentional about how you want to live, stress and overwhelm can decide for you, resulting in lack of motivation, depression or exhaustion. Choose to fill your bucket with healthy practices and attitudes. Not only will everything fall into place, but you will set the stage for a healthy mind and body, contributing to you being the best version of yourself no matter where you show up.


Samantha Deleon is an active member of International ACAC, Study Illinois, and holds an MBA through the Illinois Institute of Technology. She always carves out time to Peloton or bike outdoors along Lake Michigan or around the Chicagoland area.

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