A look into student stress and its effects

Selah DeLong, Photographer

Study Time!  Most (if not all) students would say that stress is a huge part of their high school career. Recently, stress has been shown to impact other areas, such as mental health, physical health, grades and overall emotions. While school appears to be the main contributor to this problem, part of their stress can also come from balancing different aspects of life. Students need to strategically plan their day to accomplish all of their activities. 

“Right when I get home I do my homework…so I’m done by four or five. Then I have time to spend with family,” sophomore Jasmine Boggs said. 

Most students experience stress from school, yet each person deals with it differently. Regardless of how it is handled, the common denominator is stress isn’t going away. 

“Few teens said their stress was on the decline — only 16 percent reported that their stress decreased in the past year — while approximately twice as many said their stress increased in the past year,” American Psychological Association (APA) wrote in their article, “Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults”. In the survey, students also admitted they felt overwhelmed, tired and sad as a result.  Is stress a direct result of overwhelming amounts of work, or is it nourished by other factors? 

I believe the increased stress today comes from technology and social media. Students seem to have more pressure to stay constantly connected online–to school and friends–and there are fewer breaks to decompress,” teacher Kelly Guilfoil said. 

According to a survey conducted by NEAToday, “Teens who spend five or more hours online a day were 71 percent more likely than those who spent only one hour a day to have at least one suicide risk factor.” 

It’s difficult to say exactly how social media or technology contributes to student stress and anxiety. It could be, as Guilfoil said, the pressure to constantly be connected and available to others. 

Most people worry when someone doesn’t respond to their texts in a timely manner. In theory, this isn’t necessarily an irrational worry. However, it can fester and result in the overwhelming pressure to always be available. 

The problem could also simply be the fact that technology is a major distraction. Students can find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand when their device is right there in front of them. Students can find themselves scrolling on Instagram for hours rather than completing their work, which actually causes more stress and anxiety because they aren’t completing what they need to do. All of these are very realistic and probable reasons for student stress, but technology isn’t the sole issue. 

The classes students take affect stress as well. If teens take too many difficult classes, they will get far more stressed than teens who select normal courses. 

“If students are anything like me, stress is exhausting,” Guilfoil said. 

Lake Stevens High School offers a variety of advanced courses. Although these classes can be good for achieving credits ahead of time, they can come with large amounts of work. 

“Some classes have more work than others, and some students are busier than others. To avoid ‘too much’ work, students can select classes based on their priorities and communicate regularly with teachers about their needs,” Guilfoil said. 

While some students have homework every night, others don’t. 

“Usually [my homework] is just stuff I don’t finish in class…it can take a half-hour up to about two hours,” Boggs said. 

This can become a problem when teachers give out large amounts of assignments each day. Students can begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have in class and at home.  Once they get behind, it can be very difficult to get back ahead. From my personal experience, it was incredibly difficult to catch up on my school work after being sick for a week. Every day after school I spent up to five hours on homework. A simple way to solve this problem would be giving students more time to work in class, according to Boggs. 

At the same time, students should learn to select classes based on what they can handle. They need to learn to communicate with teachers. Although stress is unavoidable, to eliminate some of it, students need to make sure they don’t overload themselves with activities. 

“My advice for reducing stress is advice I’ve tried to follow myself: do one thing at a time and set aside private time each day to do nothing (meditate, rest, sit quietly),” Guilfoil said. 

Although some see stress as a negative factor, it can sometimes be beneficial. It can encourage students to get their work done. 

“[Stress can be good] because it motivates me,” Boggs said. 

It becomes detrimental when students are being affected negatively. According to “Dealing with Stress” by Skills You Need,  ways to reduce stress are to avoid caffeine, indulge in physical activity, and sleep. Managing stress is far better than letting it seep into other aspects of life. Students should be aware of what specifically causes their stress to find the best way to deal with it. If students are overwhelmed with stress, be sure to check-in with their counselor for help.