The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Students Feeling Great Deal of Stress on Daily Basis, Linked to Increasing Suicide Rate, Studies Show

Students Feeling Great Deal of Stress on Daily Basis, Linked to Increasing Suicide Rate, Studies Show

Students at WIS are feeling increasing pressure and need to find new, improved and more efficient methods to cope.

More than a quarter of high school students reported feeling extreme stress during the school year. 40 percent neglected responsibilities at home because of stress, 32 percent say they experience headaches because of stress and 25 percent reported a change in sleeping habits, according to USA Today.

This is especially relevant to this community, as the rigorous nature of the IB curriculum is a constant stressor for students.

“I think my biggest source of stress is probably school and my second probably being lack of sleep which just contributes to that,” Upper School student Vanessa Schor said.

Story continues below advertisement

In another recent study, it was found that 49 percent high schoolers report feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis according to The Atlantic. It is clear that this is also true for the WIS community.

High schoolers are feeling spread thin, but how does this affect their academic performance?

Students who feel stressed feel that there is not enough time in the day. The immediate effect is lack of sleep, which has dramatic effects in the brains of high schoolers that are still growing.

A study of 28,000 high school students in Virginia found that for every hour lost from the nine-hour recommended, students felt a 38 percent increase in the odds of feeling sad or hopeless and an absolutely astounding 58 percent increase in suicide attempts, according to Scientific American.

These are by no means causal findings (one less hour of sleep directly makes people more suicidal), but merely shows that a high stress, always-on lifestyle can have tangible effects on the psyche.

These findings are alarming, pointing to the idea that high school students should do their best to eliminate as much stress as possible.

For many high school students, this could really help them, reducing the burden they carry every day. But stress isn’t always a bad thing.

“There is a relationship between feeling too little stress and you don’t show your best performance and too much stress and you don’t show your best performance.” Upper School Counselor Megan Hallam said.

It is clear that there is a fine line between too much stress and too little, and students are often forced to find that goldilocks zone.

“We want a little stress to be the push for you to reach a little higher. If you’re not stressed you’re not going to give your best performance.” Hallam said.

Something fascinating was the difference between definitions of stress between the students and Upper School Counselor Megan Hallam.

The students said that stress was something overwhelming, not having enough time to complete what you know you need to. In other words, students defined stress as something negative.

Hallam gave a completely different definition:

“I would define stress as something that pushes you to find your limits or grow and change in some way,” Hallam said.

Stress is not, by definition bad. It simply makes someone be uncomfortable, strained, and be forced to grow.

If we never left our comfort zone of what stresses us out we would never grow, learn and become a better person.

However, if you get thrown into the deep end of the pool and you are overly uncomfortable, that won’t push you to grow, it will alarm you, shutting you out of a mindset that you can grow in.

“I think sometimes it can be overload because we don’t talk a lot about how to manage it,” Hallam said.

So how do students manage stress?

Managing stress can often be counterintuitive, because usually what makes people stressed is feeling like they don’t have enough time in the day to complete what they need to.

So oftentimes, taking time to go to the gym and exercise, one of the most commonly recommended stress releasers, can feel impossible because you have no extra time to spare.

Here are a couple methods for managing stress Hallam recommends:

“Really looking for a few days at where your time is going is a great first approach. Am I being as efficient with my time as I can? Can I find another fifteen minutes to study on my way to school? Or I think I’m on my phone for fifteen minutes, but when I do that time diet [writing down everything you do for a couple days with durations] that I’m writing everything down I’m on it for forty-five minutes. So I’ve just lost forty-five minutes,” Hallam said.This can really be helpful by making you responsible for every minute of your day. There are also methods to help you with each stressor in your life.

“I think also looking at what is stressing them and figuring out if it’s something they have control over or not. If you have control over it, it is something that you specifically can change, but we all have sources of stress in our life that we don’t have control over and that’s when really doing those things to take care of yourself. Like doing mindfulness or if you like to go for a run and that feels better that’s a good thing to do because you can’t do anything to really change that situation, but you can do something to make yourself feel better,” Hallam said.

Many students often complain that they don’t have time to practice the techniques that Hallam mentions, but she has a completely different opinion.

“Knowing that taking the five minutes away, taking the half hour to go on a run is really important because you’re going to come back and you’re gonna be more focused and attentive and you’re going to remember what you’re studying,” Hallam said.

Hallam has tried some of these methods with the students in her life skills class and feels they are really helping students.

“When we’ve done some of the mindfulness exercises that last just three minutes, it feels like forever so students can come back from something as short as five minutes and we know that blood pressure, heart rate, and even stress hormones decrease,” she said.

Students’ reactions have been great.

“Ms. Hallam’s class is where you can just kind of sit down, take a step back and look at what you have to do. It is that one class where you have no homework, projects due, you have nothing coming up and I can just take a mental break.” Hayes said.

[Under Pressure: Pushing Down On Students Now More Than Ever]

By Trevor Jehl

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All International Dateline Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *