Managing Stress in Busy Times

The college applications. The preparation for semester exams. The pressure to participate in all kinds of activities, both in and out of school. All of it can add up to seemingly too-high expectations and a lot of stress. Sometimes it can feel like no one understands how hard it is.

It's ok. In fact, we all experience stress in our lives. You're going through a lot right now as a student. Of course you're feeling stressed out, and that has an impact on your mind, your body and your spirit. So, take a deep breath and look at some of these tips to help you cope with all that's going on.

Practice self-care
When you find yourself in a cycle of go-go-go, sometimes the best thing to do is...stop. Read a book. Take a walk. Go to a movie. Watch a couple of episodes of your favorite show. Play with your dog. It's ok to give yourself a break. That time out lets you regroup, and it gives you a bit of breathing room to figure out what to do next.  

Stay organized
I love having a calendar. It keeps me on track with all that I have going on. Consider making yourself a five-day commitment calendar, and load it with all that you have happening, whether it's a party with your friends this weekend or that AP Calculus test, the play rehearsal or the swimming practice. Putting things in writing lets you see them differently, and you can organize your days and week around the commitments you have. Staying organized really helps reduce stress, because it gives you a plan.

Remember, you're not the only one feeling like this, and having someone to talk to is important
I know. That sounds like a cliche. But it's true. Your friends are feeling stressed. So are your teachers. I bet even your parents have stress they might not show you. And, as you go through life, there are  going to be times when the pressure mounts, and understanding when to seek help is important. So is finding a support system. 

I know it's hard. So, the last bit of advice I offer is this: sometimes, when things feel overwhelming, if you take a quiet moment and say a prayer, it can give you just enough time to center yourself to go on.

All of us at IWA are here for you: your teachers, your friends, your parents. We all want you to succeed. And my door is always open if you need to talk or want other coping strategies.

You'll learn more about how to handle stress and anxiety at our upcoming wellness assembly on Nov. 19. Jill Ahrens Tucker, a licensed professional counselor-supervisor, will discuss coping strategies and techniques. She's worked extensively with young adults and their families. The assembly takes place during Flex Time. There's also a session that evening for parents, which begins at 6:00 p.m. in the IWA conference center. Parents and students are encouraged to attend together, and can register here.

— Erika Eberhart, IWA school counselor