A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Help! I’m stressed!

School began in August. September was a month to start settling in, and now it’s October when the reality of it all hits us like a ton of bricks.

Teachers are grading harder, more homework is being assigned, sports are becoming more competitive, the list goes on and on. If you’re like me, sometimes you may feel like the day is just too short to get everything accomplished that you need to; there is just so much going on. The pressure of it all can be really overwhelming, and stress levels run high this time of year, especially since there’s no time off until Winter Break at the end of December.

What can we do to not let stress overcome us? There is not an easy answer to this question, but here are a few things that are worth trying to help tackle your stress down to a more manageable level so that you can still enjoy life and not feel sucked into a whirlpool of busyness.

  1. Set your priorities straight. Don’t overcommit just for the sake of being busy. Yes, activities, hobbies, sports are all good things, but it’s not good to ALWAYS be doing something. If someone asks you to do something or to commit to something, it’s OK to say no. In fact, sometimes it’s the best decision. Yes, there are things you HAVE to do, but if there is anything you can cut out of your schedule, doing so may result in less stress.
  2. Stay organized. You will be able to manage your stress better if you are organized and know your schedule. Have a planner or calendar that you can carry in your backpack, your pocket, or even on your phone, to help you avoid over planning and to help you keep track of everything you have to get done, from homework to getting to all your commitments on time.
  3. Manage your assignments wisely. If you are assigned a big project or a hefty load of work, do a little bit at a time instead of trying to do it all at once. If you don’t have pressing homework one night, start working on something due later on in the week or month so that you can get ahead. Then on nights with major homework, you will have already started that big assignment or project. Don’t be the kid that pulls an all-nighter trying to get a project done. This leads to my next point…
  4. Try your very best to get a good night’s sleep MOST nights. I understand that there are some nights when you may have to stay up later in order to get some work done, but as long as you get sufficient sleep all the other nights, one bad night won’t kill you. People who are tired are more likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed, whereas people who are more rested can focus more easily and are able to get things done faster and without a mental breakdown.
  5. Communicate with trusted adults. If there is something you are stressed about, talk to a teacher, a counselor and/or a parent/guardian about your struggle. They can hopefully help you to overcome the thing that is stressing you out, or at least be a listening ear for you when you feel overcome by stress.
  6. Use positive self talk. This may sound cheesy, but it is proven that repeating phrases in your head like “I can do this” or “I am a smart person; this is no problem” can actually steer your brain in the right direction, even if you don’t believe it. Eventually, you will start to believe it and you will feel better about yourself and your stressful situation. Do not ignore the power of positive self talk!

These are just a handful of strategies that will be useful in helping you manage stress. Do your best to take each day one at a time and remember, everyone feels at least a little bit of stress at some point in their lives (some people more than others); know that you are not alone in the struggle to stay in control of stress. You can do it!