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Tips to Soothe Anxiety and Stress methods to evade stressful feelings brought to you by Students and Alums of Walpole High School

High school students are no stranger to the stress and anxiety that comes with overwhelming workloads and due dates that characterize the school year. To adjust to this influx of stress, utilize these student approved tactics:

1. Breathing Techniques

Having stress consume your mind is never healthy. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system and signals your body to go into “fight or flight mode,” which increases your heart rate and causes you to breathe quicker. By using breathing techniques, you can temporarily relieve the anxious feelings and stressed-out mentality, and learn to calm down quietly and without the acknowledgment of your peers, which is especially helpful in school or public environments when you may not have access to other stress evading methods or anxiety relievers. One simple technique is called the 4-7-8 technique. Start by breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds. Then, hold that breath for seven seconds, and finally release it through your mouth for eight seconds. Doing this multiple times will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, a bodily system that controls your relaxation response and make you feel more relaxed and less anxious.

2. Spending Time with Pets (or Rebel!)

Rebel, Walpole Public School's facility dog, smiles for a photo (Photo/ Eva Clarke).

Studies show that spending time with animals releases oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone, and decreases the output of the stress hormone cortisol. By stroking, petting and playing with your pet you will release more oxytocin and feel happier and less stressed almost instantly. Rebel, Walpole High’s school facility dog, is currently being trained to respond to symptoms and signals of anxiety, and can respond with certain actions to those signals. If you are ever feeling stressed or anxious about an upcoming test or event, for example the SAT or ACT, try spending more time around your pet, or hang out with Rebel at the front entrance that morning to take your mind off how stressed or anxious you are.

3. Exercise

Alumnus Emily Ball poses after running in the Falmouth Road Race. (Photo/ Emily Ball).

Even if you don’t play a sport at Walpole High, you could get personal training lessons, get a gym membership, go swimming, even taking a walk outside will help to distract you and clear your mind. Exercising releases endorphins, which serves as a mental painkiller and will keep your mind off all the tasks running through your head. “As a freshman in college, I’ve been extremely stressed with all my assignments, papers and projects already and I find that just spending an hour or two at the campus gym or running on the track really helps to ease my mind,” said alumnus Emily Ball.

4. Listen to some music

Juniors Emily Tomasetti and Jodi Mathew listen to music during their study block. (Photo/ Eva Clarke).

Sometimes just turning up your music and tuning out the world can distract you from the stress that is overwhelming your mind. Instrumental music and songs without words tend to have soothing effects on both stress and anxiety. While listening, relax and take deep breaths to keep calm and relaxed. Classical instrumental music is a great substitute to your usual playlist if you enjoy listening to music while you do homework, because the songs have no words, so you will not be tempted to sing along to the songs, but instead get your work done and simultaneously having something to listen to. “I listen to softer music to calm myself down, sometimes it’ll just be a piano music or a soft happy song with a calming beat and when I listen, it helps to block negative thoughts and any chaos. It’s like the calmness of the music is contagious,” said junior Jodi Mathew. Check out our Spotify playlist called "OFF THE RECORD SEPT. 2018 : STUDY SONGS."

5. Laugh

Senior Erin Mouradian laughs along with friends at Walpole High School (Photo/ Lily Ahmed).

Sometimes getting your mind off the stressor is best for your mind. Whether it is using Youtube or hanging with your best friends, laughing and having fun is a way to feel better and keep your mind occupied. “I watch Youtube vlogs frequently when I feel stressed because after school I feel stressed because I feel mentally and physically exhausted. Youtube provides me with a great opportunity to laugh, relax, and take my mind off the stressful aspects of my daily school life,” said senior Erin Mouradian.

6. Learn to avoid procrastination

Keep organized and on top of all your work with a planner or calendar (Photo/ Eva Clarke).

The key to a great year is being organized. Buy a big calendar or planner, or even use the calendar on your phone to keep track of all your assignments, test dates, and other activities, like when clubs meet or when you have practice. As long as you get your work done on time, you will not be as stressed in school. If you have a study, utilize it and get some of your homework done during the block, or make study guides. Also, do not leave studying to the night before a big test or even a quiz. Make sure you review all the information for the given section over the period of a week, test yourself and clear up any confusions or ask your teacher for help days in advance, not the day before. This will set you up for success, and stop you from stressing out so much.

7. Go for a ride

Listening to music in your car with friends can be a great way to de-stress and keep your mind off all the reasons you may feel anxious or stressed out (Photo/ Erin Mouradian).

Having your license is like a key to freedom. Driving your car, you are in charge and always alert in manner. Yet, driving can be really relaxing and be used as an opportunity to think out issues you are having and even think clearly about what you need to accomplish in the near future. By driving in a quiet car, your thoughts can wander and you can think logically in a place without judgement or distraction. This may help reduce the stress you feel by thinking logically and alone in your personal space, knowing that you are in control. Yet, if there are not problems causing your stress or anxious feelings, sometimes blasting music in your car and singing along to the lyrics, whether it is alone or with friends, is the best way to distract yourself and have fun.

8. Take a nap

The diagram above shows the benefits of certain lengths of naps (Graphic: https://davidkanigan.com/2013/09/04/nap-time/).

Taking a nap is a great way to cure a sleep deprived mind, of which many high school students struggle. Sleep deprivation can also be a possible root of some of your stress, so when the anxiety sets in and the stress consumes your mind, find a comfy place to sleep and nap. Even napping for 20 minutes can have its benefits. Consequently, the longer you nap, the more groggily you will wake up, so if you are planning on napping for longer periods, like spans of an hour or more, take caution. “Napping is my favorite way of coping with stress. If you are napping instead of doing your homework then that doesn’t help, but the amount of sleep you get has a major effect on stress levels,” said alum Grace Donovan. Although napping may be a way to delay the start of your homework and temporarily put off the problem, your stress is only going to worsen if homework is already the root of your stress.

“It is very important to get a good night's sleep every night to let your body recharge and give yourself more energy for the day. When I don’t get enough sleep, I am not as aware and on top of my work and schedule, which consequently results in more stress. If I know I am going to be up late working on an assignment, I try and make sure I can fit in a power nap the next day. It doesn’t necessarily help me catch up on sleep, but napping for 20-30 minutes can make me feel more awake and ready to work” said Donovan.
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Eva Clarke
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