Stress: Turn and Face the Strain

Ms. Violet Hamel-Wade

 Life is full of stressors, ranging from more traumatic sources of stress such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness, to everyday stressors such as missing a bus or arguing with your significant other.

Image result for stress

Image from Blue Diamond Gallery

 American Psychological Association’s annual stress report sheds light on the stress that the people around us are feeling. The report lists Generation Z, roughly anyone born after 2000, as the second most stressed generation. Teen stress is often underestimated by adults, as most teens don’t have to manage the responsibilities of adults, such as paying rent or supporting a family. Studies, like this stress report, however, help to prove that teen stress is higher than it has ever been.

It’s no secret that many CVU students are experiencing anxiety on a daily basis, all at varying levels. “Stress is a natural fight or flight response that people need,” school nurse Megan Trevithick says. “If school wasn’t stressful we wouldn’t be motivated. It’s all good practice”.

While this is true, there are many cases in which the stress of school can impact a student’s ability to learn. “If you’re emotional then you shut down. You’re not processing and absorbing information. You get stressed because you don’t understand what is going on. It becomes a cycle,” Trevithick continues. This negative cycle seems to be a reality for many CVU students.

Senior, Hannah Postlewaite says this cycle definitely sounds familiar.  “A lot of the stress revolves around grades and how well we should do,” she says, “there isn’t as much pressure on us as we think, but societally [it feels like] a lot.” Postlewaite is not the only student who feels this way.

Honors student Kali Adams believes that expectations for students are set too high. “I think school is too stressful based on the amount of extracurriculars combined with homework that teenagers are expected to complete,” Adams says. She states that she personally has not experienced the stress cycle because her stress manifests differently. “For me I tend to overexert myself before burning out and feeling like I am not accomplishing what I am needing to, even though that amount is perfectly satisfactory.” This false feeling of underachievement may sound familiar to many students. It is hard to feel proud of your achievements when there is always someone who has achieved more.

Are today’s students overworked, compared to earlier generations? According to The National  Center For Education Statistics, the difference is significant. 2009 high school graduates earned three more credits on average than students in 1990. This equates to over 400 extra hours in class during their high school career. This source also states that 2009 graduates took more challenging classes than 1990 graduates. Based on this data, we can conclude that students today are being more academically challenged than past generations. However, they aren’t falling behind. The ACT released a chart of the composition of students with different grade point averages. The chart reveals that between 1989 and 1994, the percentage of students in the 3.5-4.0 range increased yearly, starting at 26.3% in ‘89 and ending at 33.0% in ‘94. This may not seem like a huge jump, but in the context of CVU that would mean over 80 students increased their GPA to that range in only five years.

The expectations for teens have increased over the years, but that is not the only reason for the increased stress. Often teens try to take on more responsibilities in order to meet expectations that they have for themselves or that adults in their lives may have for them. This can cause many students to break down and not be able to do everything that they have commited to. The best thing for students to do is to only take on what they can handle and to try their best to let go of an extra activity if it becomes too much. Keeping your life balanced is important and overloading your schedule will certainly make it unstable. Being unbalanced means that there are areas in your life that you are neglecting; In the long term it is more important to prioritize all parts of your life, not just your schoolwork.