COVID-19 cases aren’t the only thing on the rise. An increased amount of stress has also been taking a toll on many students during this pandemic. Being in school and trying to keep up with assignments and day-to-day life can be more difficult than some might like to admit. Between the pressure of keeping your grades up and finishing multiple assignments, managing stress isn’t something that generally comes to mind.
Unsure if you’re stressed? There are lots of possible signs to look out for, according to Cleveland Clinic. Stress is a normal part of life. It is your body’s reaction to positive or negative situations happening. However, too much stress can have serious consequences on your health. Everyone responds to stress differently, so it’s important to know what stresses you out and how to handle it.
Some symptoms include:
- Feeling anxious or irritable
- Headaches, dizziness or shaking
- Physical aches and pains
- Weak immune system
- Chest pains or shortness of breath
You may also start to:
- Have sleep problems
- Feel less energized
- Find it hard to concentrate
- Bite your nails, pick your skin or grind your teeth
Students’ mental health in education has been an increasing concern as well. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed focus on the issue; experts say it is important to address it and find solutions to help one another through these difficult times.
Too much stress for students, in particular, may affect their health and educational experiences, according to a Stanford blog written by Justin Rodriguez. Some major sources of student stress stems from grades, tests, quizzes, finals or other assessments, or just the overall workload and homework.
High school senior Lydia Michelle said, “I’ve gotten more stressed trying to stay on top of my school work, while also applying for colleges and scholarships.”
Since the pandemic, school closures nationwide may have contributed to additional stress for students. Some prefer in-person class over online. According to High Focus Centers, spending a significant amount of time online can wear out both students and their teachers. Sometimes, this impact is referred to as Zoom fatigue. Part of the reason a day full of video interactions is so mentally draining is because our brains are unable to process information in the way it’s accustomed to.
“Sitting and staring at a computer screen for hours on end has been difficult for me,” Michelle said. “I like being in-person more because I retain the information better that way. It’s harder for students to feel connected. It’s harder for teachers, for the adults in the school, to connect to their students, which is such a foundational element. Therefore, a lot more students are feeling less motivated.”
Michelle has struggled with her mental health for the majority of her life. Over the past year, it’s only gotten worse due to the pandemic.
However, she has been making efforts to slowly reduce the amount of stress in her life. Stress can be a short-term issue or a long-term problem, depending on what changes in your life. Practicing stress management techniques can help you avoid most physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms of stress.
In order to manage your stress, first identify the things that cause you stress, also known as “triggers.” Then, continue to find healthy ways that might help you cope.
“I try to calm myself down by going to the beach or just getting out of the house and hanging out with friends. On the weekends, I like to wake up early and meditate a little before I start my day. I’ve also tried limiting my social media intake,” she said.
Some tips on reducing stress are to:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Think positive
- Have a stress outlet (journal, paint, exercise)
- Engage in relaxation techniques
- Talk to someone
“This pandemic has brought on a whole new way of living and new mental challenges that we have to face,” Michelle said.