If there’s one word to describe the experience of being a Lakeside student, it’s stress, the ever-present force that motivates and frustrates freshmen and seniors alike. Stress is staying up late to finish a history paper or realizing you have a test tomorrow. Sometimes stress is just getting up in the morning and realizing you have a Friday ahead of you. Luckily, the administrators at Lakeside school are aware of this problem and work to combat it through methods like no homework days and a proposed, new, slam day-less schedule. As I enter junior spring, commonly described as the upper point of Lakeside’s difficulty, I thought it would be useful to compile a list of solutions and ideas to combat stress, things that will apply to students from freshman to senior year as we all fight through these last couple months.
“We are concerned that students in these selective, high-pressure schools can get burned out even before they reach college,” wrote Noelle Leonard in a 2015 NYU study that examined stress in challenging private schools like Lakeside. Coping mechanisms for the lab rats of this study included rampant substance abuse and something researchers described as “emotional exhaustion,” but there are healthier ways out of stress. This study also noted the best methods of countering stress on the administrative side of things, citing methods like changing schedules (point to Lakeside), staggering stressful projects and tests (not so much), and opportunities for students like yoga and meditation. While I would recommend yoga for any freshman looking to grind out their P.E. requirement, meditation is probably the most relevant and useful solution.
While some counters to stress may be difficult to fit into an already busy schedule, meditation is a quick and somewhat easy method of relaxing. It’s even possible to incorporate it into a school setting, as anyone from a Mr. Engelhardt or Ms. Knudsen middle school class can tell you. A mindful minute to start off class is a great way to relax and focus, a method that led to reduced suspensions and increased GPAs for one San Francisco school district. Outside of school, meditation offers great benefits at a minuscule time commitment. Apps like Headspace, which I use regularly, offer free and short guided meditations. You may think meditation is not your thing, but it’s essentially just closing your eyes and trying not to think about stuff, which is what I do in long block STEM classes anyway. Two minutes in your morning routine or at the end of the day will lead to proven scientific benefits like reduced stress and anxiety.
Besides meditating, there are a myriad of small ways to deal with stress, from exercising to spending time with pets. It’s also important to note that you don’t have to take on stress on your own. If you’re overwhelmed at any point, meeting with counselors or taking a mental health day can help you reset. There are many positive coping mechanisms to help deal with this problem, but negative ones like procrastination and substance abuse will only create problems of their own.
Months of school lie between us and the summer sun, but hopefully this article will inspire some of you to get a better hold on academic stress. At the very least, you’ll be able to meditate some of your deadlines away.