Hail to the Chiefs: A Column

Jenna Harper and Mina Orlic

   Whether you’re a freshman getting ready for your first-ever high school final or a senior desperately trying to finish up your college apps, there’s no denying it, school — and honestly, life in general — is stressful. Feeling stressed out is a totally normal and warranted reaction when you consider the amount of homework, sports, and extracurriculars the average high schooler has to keep up with. Ultimately, no matter how hard you try, you’ll always feel at least a small amount of stress. So here are some ways to ease that anxiety.

  The easiest way to relieve stress is to stop a stressful situation from arising in the first place. When you know that you have a million different things to do, it’s extremely helpful to create a schedule, list, or calendar so that you’re not overwhelmed or surprised by all that you have on your plate. A key thing to remember when planning your schedule is that you shouldn’t over-commit yourself — learning to say no to people and plans can reduce loads of stress. 

  Stopping a stressful situation from taking shape isn’t always easy; luckily, there are ways to ease stress once you’re already feeling it. According to the Mayo Clinic’s official website, exercise is a proven stress-reliever: “Physical activity can pump up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being” (mayoclinic.org). Something as simple as walking or house cleaning can refocus your mind on your body’s movements, which can improve your mood and help irritation fade. 

 Others find vitamins and supplements help in improving their mental state. Some of the most common stress-reducing supplements include lemon balm, green tea, and omega 3 fatty acids. If supplements aren’t your thing, aromatherapy is also a very popular stress-reducing method. According to a health website, lavender, rose, sandalwood, geranium, and orange are some of the most soothing scents (healthline.com). Lighting a candle or burning some incense can help moderate your anxiety. 

  Unsurprisingly, your sleep pattern plays a large role in how well or how poorly your body handles stress. The quality and amount of sleep you get directly affects your mood, energy level, concentration, and overall function (mayoclinic.org). If you are having trouble sleeping, make sure you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put away all distractions, and try and stick to a consistent sleep schedule. 

   Equally as important is your diet — when you’re under large amounts of stress, it is important to avoid large amounts of refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. According to another health website, “Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it. Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Refined sugars can cause energy crashes which may lead you to feel tired and irritable” (skillsyouneed.com). You can substitute caffeinated and alcoholic drinks with water, herbal teas, or natural fruit juices; the main goal is to stay hydrated, as proper hydration enables your body to better cope with stress.  

   More stress-relieving activities include relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and positive self-talk. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by schoolwork, applications, school, and more, just remember that it’s not a bad thing to delegate responsibility and prioritize tasks; nobody expects you to be superhuman. 

   The bottom line is that everyone experiences stress at one time or another and that is perfectly normal. Make sure that you are open with your friends and family if you are feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Therapy or counseling is also a good idea if you are having trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home, or school. There is no shame in asking for help, considering most of us are in the same stressful situation and we could all use a helping hand in handling our stress.