Stress and Coping for Students

The different ways students handle the stress of the year


Kelly Sikkema, Unsplashed

Sarah Butler, Journalist

From school to sports to the state of the world, there’s a lot of reasons to be stressed right now. With everything that happened last year and so far this year, it only makes sense to be a bit more on edge. 

“Kids are put on a lot more stress these days in school,” Joseph Ayden Cornett, 10, said, “when it comes to that list board and all the high ropes don’t really understand how much pressure could be placed on the students in this time.”

With balancing online school and living through a pandemic, along with countless other “once in a lifetime” events, students are dealing with a lot. The stress of virtual learning combined with isolation from COVID has led to an increase in stress and anxiety among students.

Different aspects of school are stressful to different people. “The workload, especially doing it online because you aren’t face to face, and trying to get all the work done for AP Euro and not fall behind,” Monica Francic, 10, said.

Dealing with all of these things can be a lot for a single person to handle, which is why a variety of ways to relieve stress have been popularised. From counting breaths to warm showers, there are a bunch of ways to destress.

A simple way to work out nervous energy for students is fidgeting. “I mess with my hands, and whenever I have a hair tie on my wrist I mess with it,” Memphis Griffin, 11, said.

Fidgeting is a very simple, yet effective way to work out nerves. It isn’t very disruptive, so it can be done in class. With the various different types of fidget toys, there’s something for everyone.

Another discreet method for soothing nerves is to focus on breathing. “I have my apple watch and it has breathing on it and I use that sometimes and it vibrates and tells you when to breathe and it helps a lot,” Griffin said.

As she said, many devices, such as watches, have apps to help count breaths. Focusing on breathing as opposed to whatever might be making someone panic is beneficial. It also works as a grounding exercise, similar to counting things you can see, feel, smell, etc.

A simple way to stay positive, whether it’s about the future or about how you see yourself, is with positive affirmations. “I try, but it’s really hard with self-deprecating humor and stuff like that,” Francis said.

In this day and age, self-deprecating humor has definitely become commonplace. For example, after answering a question wrong a student might say that they’re stupid. Over time this kind of humor can be incredibly damaging because you internalize those jokes and start to believe them. A more healthy alternative is self-aggrandizing humor, this would be like if a student got something wrong but called themselves a genius. This, combined with positive affirmations, can do wonders for mental health both for students and teachers alike.

Many students use modern media, such as music, as a coping mechanism either for escapism or a distraction or anything in-between. “When my teachers allow it, it’s great, but it usually just happens after or before school, I can really just kind of wind down,” Cornett said.

Music can be a healthy way to distract someone from the world. Listening to music and lying in bed is a great way to wind down after a stressful day, according to Aislynn Lynch, 10.

Sometimes, the best way to handle stressful situations is to simply have a positive outlook. “Sometimes I’ll be thinking positive even when I’m down, Griffin said, “and I don’t know how I do it.”