Don’t let it overwhelm you

By Principal Schwab

We’re close to the end of the school year and most likely the amount of work on your plate is starting to increase significantly for you, as it is for me.  Senior Project, essays to write, math homework, test, quizzes, family obligations, jobs—all these things tend to impact you as they do for other students and the adults in our school.  I am inspired to write about stress as I have been dealing with some significant stress lately as I wrestle with another year of budget cuts that will effect on our school.

I had a few days where I think I could have easily chewed through a solid metal bar, as hard as I was clenching by jaws.  And I noticed how short on patience I was.  Things that didn’t normally bother me much became real annoyances.  But I got through it and as the stress I experienced has decreased, I found myself reflecting on how I dealt with it and how others dealt with me.  There are some good lessons I’ve learned that I’d like to pass along to you, dealing with it personally, and dealing with others around you who may be stressed.

First, understand that stress is natural.  Each of us experiences it to a greater or lesser degree.  In my experience, I have found that stress can actually be really productive if you channel it correctly.  For instance, when I am up against a deadline, it is the stress of that looming deadline that keeps me going until I get things done.  In your lives as students, you have many deadlines to manage and if you care at all about your classes and grades, these deadlines are going to create some stress for you.  The fact that you are stressed is a good thing; it means that you care.   Use your stress to help focus you and create a plan to address your deadlines for homework, tests, and projects.

The important thing when dealing with stress is to not let it overwhelm you.  Sometimes stress can become so great that it causes you to simply shut down.  It is easier not to deal with the deadlines and the work that is piling up.  Almost every day I come across a student or two who find themselves in this kind of situation.  They get behind in their classes and the work keeps piling up and at some point the hole they dug for themselves becomes so deep that there seems to be no way out.  They give up because it is easier than trying to get out of this hole.  It is in these moments where you find yourself shutting down, that you need to get some help.

Talk with your teachers, talk with your counselor, talk to an administrator–find someone to talk to.  There is nothing wrong with asking for help.  And you may find that when you talk about it, the thing or things that are causing you to be stressed out may not be as great as you imagined them to be.

Finally, I encourage you to find an outlet for your stress.  The thing that helps me most is to exercise.  I try very hard to make time in my schedule to do some kind of physical activity every day.  Some days and weeks I do better than others, but for the most part, I think I am pretty consistent and this helps me to control my stress when it starts to grow.  There are many things you can do to manage your stress—exercise is my thing.  Your outlet may be very different.  Listen to music.  Play a video game.  Howl at the moon.  Just find a constructive, healthy way to keep your stress in check.

The most important thing to know about stress is that it doesn’t last.  Like everything in our lives, stress comes and goes.  The keys to remember are to use it positively, seek help when you need it and find healthy ways to manage it.   I hope you all have a great end to the school year and that you are successful in managing your classes and your stress.