Stress: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

By: Vivian Shillingsburg

It’s such a stressful time, trying to prepare yourself for a test that can make or break your grade. It’s hard to keep your mind on anything but these tests that seem to decide your fate. It sounds dramatic, but it truly is a hard time for any high school student. Feelings of unpreparedness and anxiety creep into your brain and practically take over. Adults are always telling us that there is no reason to be worried, but they aren’t the ones pouring over notes and textbooks, trying to cram every bit of knowledge they can before the dreaded week of writing, circling, clicking, and stressing. There is no way this rigorous time doesn’t take a toll on our mental and physical health. Every teenager has to take a standardized test at one point in their middle school or high school career. They are notorious all over the nation and even the world for being one of the most unpleasant and anxiety-inducing things a student has to do, but why? Is it just because no one really wants to do any work or take the test, or is there something more to it?

Although the idea behind tests is understandable–to see how much you learned from this class, and basically, how smart are you in this subject–but this system is a little messed up. The amount of stress that is put on most teens to do well on these tests is overwhelming. Teenage brains are not fully developed, and this type of stress can cause long term damage to your brain and some of its major functions. The American Psychological Association surveyed teenagers around the country. Out of those surveyed, 83% felt as though school was a major source of stress. High amounts of stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and physical health issues like high cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides, which all create a higher risk for heart disease. If you feel that you are under a lot of stress, especially as you get older or get into your 40’s, it is important to keep an eye on any symptoms that you might have. Even though you probably won’t be taking the SATs when you’re 45, the stress you are putting on yourself now can carry into adulthood. 

On the mental side of things, it’s a little more gruesome for teens. In 2016, Time reported that teen depression had risen 37% in the last decade. Many adults believe this is because of the rise of technology–this in part is true–but there is so much more to it. The pressure to get into a good school is higher than ever. With the technology we have today, it is much easier to apply for college, which means the application rates have skyrocketed, making the competition much harder.  Teens are always told: “As long as you have good grades, you’ll get into college,” but is it really that simple? Even if it is to the teenage mind, it’s not. For a teenager, good grades can only get you so far. When those tests roll around, there is nothing else that can be done. “Study” is the only word in their mind, which, without even knowing it, is building their stress, which could lead to anxiety and depression. Today the process is more stressful than ever due to the rise in competition and pressure to get into a good college. Because of this rise in pressure, teens are more and more anxious to do well on tests, which means they are going to spend hours upon hours studying and working, losing sleep, eating too much or too little, and not getting exercise, which in the long run will help much more than sitting down and rigorously working away for a test that will only last a couple hours. 

Some Tips to Avoid These Problems

Stress is something that everyone experiences. It’s just something that humans learn to cope with, but being a teenager is more stressful than it needs to be. There are ways to deal with it and they are quite simple. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mind and your body. Eating healthy can calm your nerves and help you focus on your schoolwork. Setting a time limit on yourself is super helpful. Set a time for each thing you have to do. Doing this will help you get a reasonable amount of sleep, and it will hold you accountable so that you stay focused and are more productive. Putting your phone somewhere else when your working is also good because it will keep you from procrastinating, which will also keep you from facing an unbearable amount of stress. 

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