During the end of the year, many students are struggling with the stress that comes with final exams. While other high school students are struggling with the stress that comes from graduation, this anticipation can be accompanied by various stressors. College admissions are coming up and some students never would have believed they would have gotten here since they were just in middle school before this whole pandemic. As I relate to all these aspects, I want to be able to share some tips for my fellow classmates to manage stress during this difficult period.
1) Maintain a Healthy Balance
More often than not, I see many students succumb to the hustle culture we have built up in our society. Students glorify how little sleep they get, even though sleep is a fundamental factor in how we function in our day-to-day lives. According to NIH, the amount of sleep you get affects how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others and the lack of sleep can be the root cause of many long-term health issues.
Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep, but the average teenager gets only about seven hours of sleep. This can be attributed to the excessive amount of work given in schools, sleep is one of the most important activities our bodies perform, and we should obtain the adequate amount of sleep we need.
Personally, staying up late to finish a project or study for a test became more normal than I wanted it to be. It, in fact, did not benefit my performance on tests but rather contributed to my lack of focus. Unfortunately, I know that many of my peers have this same mindset, that staying up until 4 AM is a reasonable way to study, when in actuality we are growing individuals, and this practice shouldn’t be as common as we make it.
Regarding sleep, my religion teaches me to go to sleep early and wake up early and that going to sleep late is unnatural. As Muslims, we wake up early to offer our prayers and believe this practice is most healthy. I have found it to be the most effective for me.
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2) Seeking support
As a student, it might be difficult to ask for help with your studies or just admit you need support from others around you during these difficult times. But it is not something to be ashamed of. Especially with students who are entering the college admissions process, it is important to seek advice during this time, to help with all the concerns and aspirations a student may have.
It is difficult to manage stress during this time, but remember to reach out to others and remember you are not alone; others around you can give you advice and support. Asking for help does not make someone weak and is actually a sign of strength. It means that the individual is strong enough to admit that they won’t always have the right answers. As many questions arise, worries about the future and academic stress pile up.
As a Muslim, I have been taught to repeat this small prayer, “O my Lord, increase me in knowledge!” A lot of this unnecessary stress that comes from school becomes a little bit lighter when I recite this small prayer and somehow it becomes easier to move forward. As our education system becomes harder to succeed in, the more we will need help from those around us and it is nothing to be ashamed of. The New York Times even says that the biggest flaw of the American school system is "the amount of pressure that students have on them to do well in school", so your failures in this so-called school system are nothing to be ashamed of.
Sikkema, from Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/4le7k9XVYjE
3) Self care
Students will beat themselves over not being able to get the satisfactory grade that they want and start to blame themselves, lowering their self-esteem. Often they disregard their own hard work and resilience they have put into that subject. It’s important to try your best and reward yourself accordingly, for all the hard work you do.
Remember that grades do not define us as people or how intelligent we may be. To remind yourself of your worth, it's important to practice self-care and realize there is more to this world than your bad grades. Self-care does not need to be going to a spa or going on a shopping spree, it can simply be anything you find relaxing or enjoyable to re-energize yourself. Self-care is also not just about giving yourself time off, but it’s also about taking care of yourself every day. Similarly, in Islam, when we take care of ourselves, we believe it is also a way of showing gratitude to our Creator for everything He has given us.
Bazzocco, from Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/TOZqUHD8L38
4) Try Your Best and Don’t Stress
Students need to understand that where you go to college, what you get on that test, and whether or not you win a competition is not the end all be all of the trajectory of your life. Something that is really important in my religion, in particular, is to have faith in God and know that He has your best interests at heart. Others relate to this aspect by saying that the universe has a plan for you and redirects you.
For me personally, that comes in the form of God. As long as you try your best and hand your fate over to a higher power, you should not have to worry about the outcome, as whatever happens is the best for you. Many might be distressed over not getting to their dream college, but it does not determine entirely where you go in life, as there are many possibilities that we can explore.
Barros, from Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/C7B-ExXpOIE
This time period is really stressful for students everywhere, but it’s important to keep in mind these important ideas when studying for finals and going through the college admissions process. In this day and age, especially where the education system is becoming more rigorous and more academic pressures are being placed on students more than ever, it’s important to not forget what really matters and to bring yourself back into the present moment.