Stressing Out: You’re Not Alone

Erica Mack, Lifestyles Staff

School and one’s lifestyle has increasingly become more stressful, and it’s starting at a young age. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, the millennial generation (ages 18-23), their stress level is a 5.4/10 (vs. the average of 4.9 of the nation). With too much stress, it can cause a strain in your life, and can lead to negative consequences that can affect you now and later.

The National Institute of Mental health considers stress to be a mental health problem and can put you in physical and mental risk. Continued stress can cause “digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability,” according to NIMH.

As students and staff of Jones, a school known for its academic prestige, many of the students, faculty, and staff can be overwhelmed and stressed out on a day-to-day basis.

During times the weeks before finals, teachers and students seem to be especially busy with work; teachers have tons of papers to grade, finals to draft or finish, or grades to update. Students are cramming for finals, trying to figure out ways to raise their grades before the semester ends, or looking for extra credit opportunities.

But sometimes, the stress can be too overwhelming for both teachers and students.

English teacher Ted Grossman says that when he encounters stress, he tries to find balance in his life.

Grossman said, “The paradoxical thing about stress is when you need balance the most, it’s when your life is out of balance”. He believes that one needs to find a balance in these aspects, whether it is spending time with family or eating right.

This year is Grossman’s first year at Jones and he says that he is learning to deal with stress and workload, just like the students. “I have to figure out how to grade papers and make assignments, and like students, sometimes I have more work than I want and that can be stressful,” he says, “ and sometimes, I have to stay up late to make sure my work gets done”.

English teacher Amy Fritsch has been teaching for 17 years and she is still learning how to deal with the workload and stress. She says that this year, she has figured how to prevent stress from escalating. When she has to grade large amounts of papers, she gets away to make sure her work gets done. “I tell my family that they won’t see me for a few days because I have to get these done,” she says, “because the longer I procrastinate, the longer I procrastinate.”

Grossman and Fritsch both agree that besides teacher having over-stressing on their workload, it is obvious that students have large amounts of stres­­s as well.

At a college prep school, the workload can to be greater and when you add personal issues into your load, it can create a bigger issue. Grossman says that the college prep workload is ok, “but when you have other problems: sleeping problems, eating disorders, upheavals, social/emotional problems, unstable home life, then all of those things start to collapse on you.”

Fritsch said, “We have some of the most stressed out students on the planet in this school.” She believes it is the mentality and habits of the students that derive from the competitive nature of Jones.

“These students spend eight or nine years working hard to get into a school like Jones and when you get in, there is this competition,” she says. Fritsch doesn’t believe students are trying to out do each other; rather they are trying to live up to the expectations that they set for themselves or that others set for them, stress over the fact that they won’t be good enough or not be good enough to get where they want.

Every student at Jones works hard, but not everyone has the same amount of stress.

Ruben Martin ’15 believes school and family can be the main cause of stress for people. “Your family always wants you to be on time and have chores for you to do, then you have to figure out times to do all your homework, and sometimes, that can be too much.”

Carolina Augilar ’15 thinks that extracurricular and work can also adds on the work students get from school. “People work and get off at 10 or 11 [at night] or they have sports practice and don’t get home until late, “she says, “then they have to decide “Oh ok, I can have three hours of sleep and then do all my homework in the morning or I’ll just not sleep and do homework” and that can become too much.”

“I feel like the workload isn’t the most stressful since we don’t have that much, it’s just being able to understand [what we learn] and being able to keep it all in the back of your mind is what causes the most stress”, said Tafka Baez ’15.

Martin thinks the most stressful time during the school year is before a break. “Mentally, I’m like I just want to get to this break already,” he says, “and then the teachers want us to still put effort before [the break].”

Of course, not all stress is bad.

Good stress, also known as “eustress” can be beneficial to the human mind. It can stimulate your brain, letting you feel emotions or feelings. Good stress happens all the time. It is part of your everyday life.

Eustress is the push we get in life to do better or to be challenged. The purpose of eustress is to keep us going, but too much of it turns into the bad stress and it can cause us to be overwhelmed.

There is a wide variety of ways to handles stress and it is important to know your own stress level.

If you are really stressed out some ways to release some stress is by writing in a journal, doing some breathing exercises, or do some physical activity; something that will keep your mind off your stress.

Some people like Baez, does not really think much about the stress. “I just sleep and get side tracked.”

Others relax by listening to music or watching videos on YouTube. Martin says, “ I have to take these ten minute breaks before I can start doing anything again or else I’ll start freaking out and then two hours will pass by”.

Grossman says that it is important to learn how to balance out home and work. He said “I deal with it by spending time with the people I love and that love me; they help me cope with the stress.”

“Sometimes, something that are your biggest worries today, it will be small in the future and by being able to see that, it can help,” said Fritsch. “Organization is everything, have a system and get it done,” she says, “also having a support system is very important.”

Augilar says it is important to remember that when you get too stressed out to do anything talk to someone. She says, “Talk to your parents or your friends or consolers because there are people out there are will be able to help you.”

Stress can get overwhelming at times and it is important to learn how to manage it. Even if it is something so drastic, as Fritsch said, “You have to wait for time and experience to bring you [the understanding of your current stress].”

Even if you don’t have anyone to talk to, talk to yourself. The American Heart Association believes that talking out loud in is a way to relieve stress. When you talk to yourself, say motivating things to encourage yourself to keep going. It is a good way to keep powering through.