Welcome back, NCHS! It is November of our new school year, which means we have 6 and a half months to go until it’s summer again. Six long, difficult months full of tests, quizzes and drama among friends. What do all those things have in common? They are all STRESSORS. What a fun word, “stressor,” doesn’t it just make you feel awesome? Yeah, me neither. With too much stress can come lack of motivation, apathy and other negative effects on mental health, so I’ve compiled my list of tips and tricks to help cope with the many stresses of high school.
In moments of stress, there’s a chemical response in your brain. “Stress chemicals” known as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are released which increase heart rate and dilate blood vessels. Just like when you’re running, with an increased heart rate comes more of a need for oxygen. If you’re feeling stressed, remembering to take deep breaths can help, Try counting breaths, 4 in, 4 out, or listening to music and breathing to the beat.
Meditation normally has a pretty strong association with monks and hippies, but it is 2016 and that’s just not true anymore. Studies show that meditation can increase concentration and lower levels of stress. It can also improve memory and can help manage ADHD.
Take a Break
While writing this, I ended up taking at least 5 breaks. Sometimes when you’re stressed, you just need to take a second to step away from the thing that’s stressing you. It can sometimes be hard, especially when it feels like you just cannot step away for fear of no accomplishing a task, but that’s where time management comes in. Try setting a timer for 5 minutes and use that time to meditate or listen to a song or watch a YouTube video, then get back to work. Giving yourself a short break is like a gift you give yourself, saying “I will get this done, but I am overwhelmed and need to step back for a second.”
A major cause of stress for me is being overwhelmed with too many different tasks at once. Finish an essay, make football posters, exercise, do homework, go to practice. I oftentimes find myself worrying about all the things I need to do at once, rather than just focusing on one task at a time. When completing one task, i.e that major essay, try to just focus on that one essay. Don’t stress about the other things you need to get done as well, just let yourself finish one task and know that if you focus and finish this one task, you can finish the others.
Grounding is a technique used by many people when dealing with mental illnesses and can also be applied in times of high stress, or anxiety. My personal go-to grounding technique is to get a black sheet of paper and a pencil. Trace your hand and on the thumb write 5 things you can see, then on the next finger write 4 things you can smell. Continue down the hand listing 3 things you can touch, 2 you can taste and one you can hear. This can help you zero in on one task and lower levels of anxiety.
This method of dealing with stress could be paired with chunking. Basically, you make lists of tasks you need to get done or things that are stressing you out. Organize the lists into different categories, use different styles of handwriting or use different colored pens. What to do with these lists? Nothing really, just use them as an opportunity to remember what you need to do but also have a creative outlet.