Editorial: Self-care and stress
January 13, 2017
Students are all too familiar with the frequent pressures of high school. Intense workloads plague students of all grade levels, causing stress and overall unhappiness. To maintain positive mental health, it’s beneficial to prioritize self-care over schoolwork.
Self-care can mean many things: taking time to pursue an interest, exercise or even just getting a few extra hours of sleep. The bottom line is this: self-care means allowing time to focus on your mental well-being.
Self-care, or the lack thereof, can have both mental and physical effects. According to the American Psychological Association, excessive stress can lead to panic attacks, irritability, and a sizeable list of physical ailments such as head and stomach aches. Self-care can directly counter these, as taking time for yourself can reduce stress.
Ignoring self-care entirely can be extremely damaging. When overcome by stress, it becomes difficult to produce high quality work. This means that extra hours of studying, writing essays or doing homework may only result in mediocre work. Stressing over school work in an attempt to raise or sustain grades may have just the opposite effect, as rushed work, completed under pressure, may be sub-par.
On the other hand, choosing to put assignments aside in favor of a few hours of relaxation may actually be productive. Efficient, high-quality work requires focus and energy, which can’t be maintained by someone who is stressed and tired. Taking a night to focus on maintaining mental health allows students to be less strained by pressure, and to face upcoming work with enough energy to perform well.
Often, the stress built by academic workloads has more serious effects than just a dip in a GPA. It’s easy to lose sight of the world outside of school. High school years can consist of more than just studies and schoolwork; these years provide the perfect opportunity to explore passions and have fun. Focusing entirely on work, rather than happiness, can make high school seem more like a chore than it needs to be.
Beyond obscene quantities of academic work, students also face a range of extracurricular responsibilities. Relationships, clubs, and sports are frequently juggled among already-packed academic schedules. Although these commitments usually stem from passions, they frequently mean that students have work outside of school. Teachers seem to forget that these activities exist, issuing work despite how packed students’ schedules already are. Extracurriculars regularly create stress, and time must be taken to address the excess pressure caused by these commitments.
However, taking too much time for yourself and regularly ignoring assignments is undeniably risky. Self-indulgence can promote health, but only in the right doses. If you constantly prioritize self-care or treat mental well-being as an excuse to ignore manageable work, assignments will only pile up and cause further stress. It’s important to consider workload in the long run, and make sure not to prioritize relaxation every time an assignment comes up.
High school can be an extremely stressful experience, and it’s important to minimize emotional damage by taking time to care for yourself. Sometimes, when the piles of assignments grow so high that you can’t see around them, it’s important to temporarily put aside thoughts of school. Learning is valuable, but happiness is too.