How to succeed in school without really stressing (too much)

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Let’s face it, everyone stresses out.

And, everyone gets stressed over different reasons.

While it may seem like a negative, out-of-control feeling, stress has actually been proven to have positive aspects as well.

During a Sept. 23 press conference with the Sentinel staff, school psychologist Dr. Joshua Kefer, school social worker Sue Stemetzki, and school counselor Kari Olsen discussed stress amongst Seahawks.

Kefer began the conference by explaining and sketching the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which is graphed similarly to the normal bell curve. According to the law, which outlines the relationship between stress and performance, too little stress leads to no performance and too much stress causes abilities to be impaired.

“Stress depends on who you are and what drives you,” Kefer said.

While stress is highly reliant on the tolerance and stamina of each distinct person, stress is usually introduced during the adolescent years.

“Stress is dependent on the individual,” Stemetzki said. “In high school, we routinely see kids that are over-stressed. They can’t prioritize, [stress] is overwhelming them and affecting their performance.”

Although stress can be debilitating, it can help students handle stress as adults.

“Adults are more insightful,” Stemetzki said. “They are better able to read stress before it becomes evolved.”

Stemetzki elaborated by stating that adults can recognize triggers and know when to slow down before they become over-stressed. Through experience, many adults have developed strategies to conquer stress.

In order to battle stress as a high school student, Olsen suggests finding equilibrium in coursework and extracurricular activities while still enjoying some downtime.

“One of the most important things to do is to find balance,” Olsen said. “Take rigor, but have balance, and be successful at it.”

When students are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, Olsen also advises creating a game plan to tackle the pressure.

“Take a step back from the intensity of the stress,” Olsen said. “Process all of it.”

However, stress does not only affect the mind. Many studies suggest stress can also upset the body, which is related to a direct correlation between the body and mind.

According to Kefer, it is important to stay healthy in order to physically de-stress. This includes maintaining a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and a consistent sleep schedule.

“Remember your basic needs,” Kefer said. “Seek social support.”

Nonetheless, each individual has a distinct tolerance to stress and a different way to cope with it.

Kefer reminds students that managing stress can be a lasting issue.

“Handling stress is a lifelong project,” Kefer said.

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