It’s time to head back to school!
With the introduction of September, students around the globe begin planning how they’ll approach the upcoming academic year. Internal discussions like what crowd to mingle with, which classes to pick, what to wear and more spring to mind. But not all students look forward to the new school year.
For many students, being back at school can cause severe stress and anxiety.
Triggers range from the stress of being around other students to the barrage of workload offered up by teachers. This stress and anxiety can go unnoticed inside the classroom but cause a huge amount of strain to a student’s mental health.
This will help you to navigate stress in school with a host of recommendations to help you tackle it. Whether you are looking to apply this advice to your own efforts or bringing together tips for your friends, family or children, stress management is something not to be ignored and treated as early as possible.
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Causes of Stress in School
During our time at school, we undergo many different types of stress. Deadlines, relationships, results are just some of the examples that cause us strain. Understanding the triggers for stress can help you to pinpoint the best route forward.
There are countless stressors that cause students to dread school. From student to student, the reasons will vary. Here are some of the most common causes of stress in schools for students.
- Being New – Being brand-new to your classroom can be very scary. Being the new kid on the block can have its benefits and its negatives. But the stress causes from the negative attention drawn to you can damage your self-confidence, this can lead to further loneliness, anxiety and stress, if not addressed.
- Social Pressures – Being in the right crowd can matter in school. Fitting into a social circle can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Pressure to conform or act as others do can lead to poor grades, a change in personality and even pressure to do things outside of your comfort zone.
- Transitions – Moving from high-school to college is a new start for many. A chance to reset. Lots of students use this as a way to express their personality, others struggle with this change. Being the new fishes in the pond can scare students who got comfortable with what they knew.
- Tough Classes – The stress of intense topics in the classroom can put pressures on a student to perform. The complexity of the subject might not be manageable. With a demanding schedule and a fear of being left behind a student can feel like a fish out of water very fast.
- Homework Workload – Managing a continuous stream of work is something all students have to deal with. The pile of work for some can be a huge stressor if not handled and managed. The workload can quickly build up and act like a clogged sink with more water coming in.
- Lack of Organization – One of the biggest causes of stress for students is not being organized. Not having a method to manage what’s coming in and out. As more and more things come into your to-do list, being able to handle all that’s happening and what’s coming up next is vital.
- Lack of Sleep – A huge stressor that students don’t consider is sleeping. Sleep is a very important part of our body’s recovery cycle. As young people, sleep doesn’t seem so valuable. But during this time of growth and study, you need it more than ever.
- Lack of Support – Stress can occur when a student doesn’t appear to have the support promised or available to them. Being stuck on an assignment or in a class that is overwhelming, and not having the support network of teachers, friends and family and other such resources can be daunting.
These are just some of the many causes of stress and how they affect students around the world as they tackle school on a daily basis. But stress is a part of our lives no matter what. Surely you need stress?!
Healthy Amounts of Stress for Students?
Stress is one of many things that we deal with every single day. It’s a natural phenomenon.
Stress and anxiety are becoming more common in students. Research from NYU shared insights into the stress levels of college students. According to their study, 49% of students reported feeling “a great deal of stress on a daily basis” with only 31% of them reporting that they felt “somewhat stressed”. In this research, females reported having higher stress levels with a 60% to 41% split. The study also uncovered that 26% of the group interviewed, reported symptoms of depression at a clinically significant level.
The majority of stress reported was centred around grades, homework and preparing for college.
At school, high school and college, the study and workload are challenging. Many students underestimate the workload and panic to catch-up or fully comprehend what they need to do. However, is there a healthy amount of stress to handle as a student?
The challenge and pressure of accomplishing deadlines are natural. The exploration and discovery that comes along with school can help us to find out more about our personalities. Stress can affect students at any time. The stress that students need to be aware of is “chronic stress”. This is a type of stress that persists past deadlines and continues with us across the day.
Being able to prevent this is of utmost importance as you tackle your time as a student. Chronic stress can lead to further mental health conditions like depression and generalized anxiety.
Your Guide to Stress Management
It’s time to reduce your stress levels.
Let’s explore the many ways you can reduce stress and manage your anxiety during your time at school. There are four core stress management areas we’ve uncovered and would like to share with you.
1. Calming Down – Taking Control of Stress
Let’s start by focusing on how to calm down in the moment.
Stress can be overwhelming and absorb all of your attention. Pausing is your next move. Take 20-minutes out of your schedule to pause. During these 20-minutes you could meditate, sit quietly or even do some light exercise like a walking. The goal is to separate you from the stress itself and take your mind away from thinking about it. Incorporating these short breaks will help to introduce a healthy habit and routine.
A popular technique during these 20-minute breaks is to write down all of your current stress on pen and paper, with the aim to clear your mind of worry. You can use the paper to tally all of your thoughts in the moment. This is a form of stress relief and will help to reset as you go into your next activity.
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Mediation has become increasingly popular and accessible. With smartphone applications like Calm, Headspace, Oak Mediation, Stop, Breathe, and Think and more, you can use meditation to reduce stress and anxiety by taking time to pause and clear your thoughts. Start with a simple session and work your way towards more advanced practices. The benefit is that these applications help you to take on meditation with no prior knowledge.
2. Time Management – Preventing Future Stress
Time management is being adopted in many schools as a way to help get yourself organized.
If you aren’t lucky enough to benefit from these lessons, time management is easy to get started with. Time management can be applied to help prevent future stress by helping to plan in any incoming workload. Organizing what you have coming up and what needs to be done will save you huge amounts of worry and stress, and of course effort hunting for what you need next.
Evernote, Trello or Todoist are strong applications to help keep yourself organized. Evernote is a good note-taking application, Trello is a visual way to plan your projects and assignments and finally Todoist a way to manage your deadlines. All of these applications are available on iOS and Android and are perfect for using outside of schooling too. All of these tools are praised by students of all ages. Give them a go! YouTube channels like Thomas Frank and Lavendaire can help you make sense of all of the ways to improve your study routine and keep productive.
Keeping yourself organized is easy once you’ve adopted a set of resources that are suitable for you. These applications are some of the many recommendations if you don’t feel these suit your needs.
3. Interacting with Others – Building Your Support
Growing a friendship circle that is healthy to support your stress.
Finding people that are like-minded in interests and hobbies will help you to reduce stress. Building a support network of other that you can discuss anxiety and stress with will help. Asking your teachers whether there are clubs, extra-circular activities and lunch-time meetings that you can attend can help you to bridge the gap and start meeting people. For the older students, using apps like Eventbrite to discover events in the local area can be a good way to connect with hobbies/interests.
A healthy circle of friends will be open to discussing topics like anxiety and stress.
Sharing their stress and workload with you to help you tackle it and grow yourself stronger for the next big challenges in life. You might come across these friends through common interests or even your own struggles but making sure you have a good family, friendship group and extended circle of teachers and community will help your chances of beating the stress.
4. Continue your Learning – Building Your Confidence
Taking control of your confidence is an important way to move forward.
Self-confidence can be at an all-time low when suffering from stress. You doubt yourself and your decisions. Everything becomes critical and you never switch off. Once you’ve tackled stress and brought yourself out of the deep water, bring your attention to maintaining this.
Building organization systems to help keep your head above water the next time, speaking with friends about your struggles and using calming methods like meditation to bring your anxiety are all ways to keep ahead of your stress. Remember healthy habits adopted will pay dividends as you continue to use them.
Our final recommendation is to try our new application Therachat, a way for you to tackle anxiety through therapist-curated activities. It’s free and there’s a host of powerful practices for you to get involved in and learn how to fully take control of your stress.
Let us know in the comments how you are handling stress in college or high school, we’d love to hear how you tackling anxiety and stress.
More Journaling Prompts, Worksheets And Activities
Therachat offers pre-made activities for psychologists and counselors to engage their clients in between sessions and achieve better outcomes.