A Manual on Managing Stress: one step at a time

Signe Stroming, Editor-In-Chief

Dear juniors,

How are you guys handling it all? Juggling the academics and the athletics and the extracurricular and the family and the social responsibilities? You’re doing okay? Awesome! Struggling? I’m not surprised.

Junior year was definitely the most stressful year of high school for me, academically and family-wise. So, I encourage you guys to seek out additional information on stress and mental health, but I can also offer a few tidbits of advice for surviving junior year:

1. Be mindful of your own mind. Imagine a situation where you were recently stressed. What was your reaction? Did you let that late English essay escalate into “the end of the world,” or did you minimize it and ignore stress until it got too big to handle? Did you “play the victim” and lash out at other people? Did you strive to make everything reach unrealistic standards of “perfection?” We’ve all engaged in most of these thought patterns at least once as a response to stress. Recognizing your habitual responses to stressful situations can help you balance your rational and emotional responses.

2.Power naps, herbal tea/coffee, and 30 second dance parties are the secret behind any successful human being. Okay, so maybe not exactly. But the point is, regardless of how well (or poorly) we time-manage, there will come times when the parrot poo hits the propeller, and you feel like it’s all too much. So find some strategies that help you feel a little more capable of tackling the world—in a healthy way. Silly things like using Sour Patch Kids as a Pavlovian reward system, or mindful things, like purposeful gratitude and small kindnesses, can help you tackle what feels like can’t be tackled. “People’s needs are met by people whose needs are met,” so make sure that you prioritize a little time to take care of yourself.

3. Achieve things. For yourself. When expectations from our parents, school, or colleges overwhelm us, me-time is more important than ever. Try setting a goal that is completely personal, grab some friends to support you, and then go achieve it. For me, wrapped up in commitments to my classes, volunteering, and clubs this goal was athletic: to run a half-marathon. Sound ridiculous? At first I thought so too. When I ran cross country my sophomore year, I was always one of the slowest people, but now, I’m not running for a team—I’m running for myself. And it feels great. It may feel like you don’t have time for any personal goals, but there is time in the day for what you make time for—and your goal is your own to set.

This list is only a tiny portion of things you can do to deal with stressors.

I encourage you to talk to other people, support your friends, practice purposeful gratitude and occasional silliness, and make time for relaxation.

Take a deep breath, Patriots! You got this!