How I Handled Stress in High School (My Top Tips)

Student Life

As I'm writing this article right now, I'm supposed to be studying chemistry for a summer course I'm taking at my school. The school I go to is extremely competitive and students often find themselves awake at 2 a.m. with a pile of unfinished homework or an essay due or a presentation to complete. The majority of my classmates, me included, have decided to take on the courseload of 4 or more AP's and 2 or more honors classes. So I guess it's safe to say that I've had my fair share of stress.

That being said, because the tips and tricks I use whenever I get swamped with schoolwork won't necessarily apply to you, take these cum granio salis, or with a grain of salt (Latin nerds rise up).

1. Keep a record of your work.

Have an easy and systematic way to know when your schoolwork is due. Prioritize. For example, if you have a 10 page English paper due next Friday but also a math project due Wednesday, focus most of your energy on finishing the math project and work on your English paper in short intervals throughout the week (if that makes any sense). This way, you're getting your math project finished but you're also not procrastinating on your English paper to the point where you have to cram everything into that 2 day period. Keep sticky notes on your desktop or purchase a planner to write your due dates. I personally use a dry-erase board. Whatever floats your boat! What I do is I plan everything out the week before based on what my teachers have posted on the Schoology calendar. Not gonna lie, it's pretty therapeutic so that's always a plus.

2. Make a schedule.

I cannot stress this enough. This goes hand in hand with tip #1, but in regards to how your every day goes, write out a realistic schedule that you know you can follow. I know this is extra, but at the start of every school year, I write a general schedule of each day (Monday-Sunday), excluding the specifics. I do this because I'm paranoid I won't have time for things and I'll get stressed and then break down. Then, as the year unravels, I write a schedule every week listing out the specifics (like if I have a meeting or what homework to finish when). Your schedule might look something like this:

7-8: get ready for school (*nota bene, remember to put your clothes in the dryer)

Lunch: finish physics homework

3-3:30: club meeting

3:30-5: finish chem homework

5-6: finish English homework

6-dinner: finish math homework

---- dinner



Of course, this is just an example. Change it up as you like! Set timers for yourself too. In this example, I gave myself 1 hour to finish each subject's homework. So I'd set a 1 hour timer, concentrate and get everything done, give myself a break, and then get back into action. The pomadoro technique works great as well! The bottom line is, set certain times for certain things. If you have no extracurriculars, take a thirty minute break when you get home before starting up on work again. If you do have extracurriculars, set yourself time limits. Work, without distractions, before your activity. Then, once you get home, tell yourself you’ll work until, let’s say, 1-2. Finished or not, you stop all that you’re working on and go to sleep. Wake up the next morning and start your routine again.

3. Set your study area.

Personally, I cannot concentrate when I'm constantly changing study locations. However, when I'm doing an activity that requires a lot of creativity, I like to switch up my location.

4. Wake up early.

Everyone dreads that moment of cold air as you step out of bed in the morning. Setting multiple alarms might help you wake up and set your alarm clock far away from your bed. Hearing that horrifying bleeping sound repeatedly is literally a wake up call. Not only does waking up early make your day feel longer and more productive, but it sets a good mood for the rest of your day (compared to if you wake up late and then have to scramble for your backpack and skip breakfast and drive past the speed limit to school– not a good feeling).

5. Overwhelmed? Take a break.

If you have so much work that you just cannot concentrate any longer, please take a break. You deserve it! Throughout your week, take a day off. Whether is Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, tell yourself that on that day, or during that hour, you’re just not going to work. You're going to binge watch an episode or gilmore girls. Or facetime your friends. Or go outside for a walk. This will allow you and your brain to recharge. Burn-outs are not healthy.

6. Eat healthy and do NOT skip meals! I repeat. Do NOT skip meals!

What I mean by this is try and stay away from foods that trigger stress such as coffee, tea and alcohol, takeaways, sugar, soda and/or other soft drinks, coconut oil, nuts, etc. Believe it or not, meats and shellfish are part of this category too. Move more towards fish and water, soups, yogurts, etc.

7. If possible, finish assignments early.

Finishing my school assignments early frees up more time to do things I love. Whether that's reading or writing or studying classics, it's always an amazing feeling where you have no more schoolwork to worry about and you can just sit down and breathe for once.

All in all, the key to a less stressful high school experience is self-discipline. If you don't procrastinate and you finish things early based on the schedule you make for yourself, you can have fun without worrying about any homework you haven't finished or any tests you haven't studied for yet.

To whoever this applies, I wish you the best of luck! Senior year is *almost* here.

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Lauren Liu

Lauren is a high schooler in California, where she's the Copy editor and an Opinion columnist for her school newspaper. When she's not writing, she enjoys art, reading classical novels, and exploring the convoluted realm of classics.

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