Managing stress: What it’s doing to your body and how to confront the problem

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The stress caused from juggling school and your personal life can impact sleep, impair decision making, and reduce the amount of time you have for productive self-reflection. Stock photo courtesy Mandyme27 via Pixabay

STORY BY KALYN PAYTON

“Caffeine’s my best friend right now,” says senior Jaeden Cowell.

Juggling school life, with school work,work life, family life, your relationship, and maybe even religion, high schoolers are more involved than they feel they have time to manage.

There is a saying that high school can be “four of the best years of your life,’ but when students are chronically stressed, and have no time to relax, it may be hard to see how that’s still the case for students still in school.

In a comprehensive 2006 study on the stress level of teens, 78 percent of the youth surveyed said that the main source of their stress came from schoolwork. 

In a more recent joint study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Arizona State University, 70 percent of teens don’t get the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. Furthermore, the researchers found that teens who reported sleep problems had a higher release of the stress hormone cortisol after completing various stress tests in a lab. The higher levels of cortisol resulted in students “responding more strongly to stressful situations.”

Finding time to do homework can be a struggle for some students.

“Some days, if I have homework for fifth period, I’ll do it at lunch or in another class,” says Junior Alexander Gousev. “With work, I try and work around my schedule, but if I have a rehearsal and work it’s especially hard to get my homework done.”

Students are aware that what they learn in school is meant to help them in the future, but they also believe that when given too much, they don’t have enough time to achieve what they need to in the so-called “real world.” Senior Angel Alvarado explained that in the past his work would schedule him until 11 PM, even though he told them he couldn’t work that late.

In an article on high school student health, clinical psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler writes that the more work and activities students pile on to their schedules, the more likely they are to simply go through the motions of their day without without self-reflection.

“Without self-direction, [students are] overwhelmed by the choices suddenly available to them in college,” writes Cohen-Sandler. “And without the wherewithal to perfect their study skills, they’re unprepared for higher-level academic demands.”

Cowell understands this problem on a personal level.

Cowell was Cheer Captain, is in choir, has 7 classes, a job on the weekends where she works 12-15 hours, siblings that she has to care for, schoolwork of course, and time she dedicates to being in a relationship and with friends.

“You really don’t sleep,” she said. “I need to focus on this so I can actually graduate ‘cause that’s what’s important this semester, just getting everything done and walking on that stage saying ‘I did it!’”

Alvarado told us “The reason why I’m able to balance my schedule so well is because I know that I don’t have a lot of time. So, whenever I get the opportunity to get my schoolwork done, I get on it right away because I’ll get behind if I don’t.” An abundance of teenagers resort to procrastination, but Angel explained that it is not the trick to efficiently getting tasks done.

If you struggle balancing your schedule, below are several resources with suggestions making your life more manageable.

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