(Photo by Lindsay O’Neil)
Handling School Stress
By Samantha Dammann
For most people, summertime brings some sort of relaxation with their schedules. Whether it means less work, more time to complete work, or even simply a more pleasant atmosphere in which to complete your work, things often seem easier during the summer. This relaxed pace, however, can make the first few weeks of August and September feel like Space Mountain at Disneyland. So how can you cope?
Manage Your Time: Learn to Prioritize
When it comes to your schedule during the school year, one thing is certain: you cannot add time to it. There always has been and always will be twenty-four hours within a day, and seven days within a week. If adding extra hours to your schedule isn’t possible, then how are you supposed to get everything done? One answer is: prioritization.
Setting boundaries for yourself about what you are able to spend your time on will help you make good decisions when faced with a dilemma. Decision-making can be extremely difficult when homework, sports, friends, clubs, and family are all vying for your attention.
Talk with your parents or mentors about what kinds of things they prioritize, and ask them why. Ask them what they would prioritize if they were in your shoes. Look at your own life and ask God to give you wisdom about what things he desires you to give your time to.
An important thing to remember is that prioritization can be fluid. It might not always be right to place homework above friends, and vice versa. Different days bring different circumstances, so get into the habit of asking God to help you prioritize well with each new day.
Being able to look at a physical copy of your schedule can also help you handle these fluctuations. Day planners and calendars make it much easier to stay on top of things. Write down assignment due dates, reminders, and important events.
Writing down your math assignment, the date of your next French exam, and the name of the textbook you need to rent will also help with relieving stress. Instead of trying to remember all of these important (and easily forgettable) details, you can relax knowing that all of the information you need is in one place. Not sure if you need to do another assignment before going to bed? That’s easy- check your planner!
Beware the Effects of Stress: Watch Your Attitude
It is highly probable that stress will mess with your emotions. Stress makes some people fragile and teary-eyed, and it makes others snappy and short. Even if stress is not currently manifesting itself in your emotions, it is a good idea to remain cognizant of the possibility.
Pray and ask God to help you be aware of how you are treating the people around you. Ask Him to keep you from slipping into this habit, or to bring you out of it. It also wouldn’t hurt to check in with those closest to you every once in a while. Ask them how they are feeling about their own stress levels, and talk about your interactions.
While prioritization and organization can help prevent stress from overwhelming you, day planners and lists can only do so much. Some stress can’t be planned away. When it comes to organizing and prioritizing you are facing your stress head on, but sometimes not thinking about your stress is the way to deal with it.
These indirect approaches to stress are as various as the human race. I love to exercise, but I know plenty of people that find rest in activities such as crafting, making and listening to music, dancing, baking, and gardening. Find something that will bring you joy, and spend some time doing it!
It’s also vital to remember that your schoolwork doesn’t define you. Whether you are blessed with the ability to effortlessly receive A’s, or have to study hard to make a C+ average, you are not your brain. It’s good to use the gifts that God has given you to the best of your ability, but neither your successes nor your struggles make you any more or less valuable in the eyes of God.