Relieving stress with Lancers


(Left to right) Academy students Journey Flores, Gigi Hioki and Aarin Mabe play cards to take their minds off the pressures of junior year.

As exam season rolls around, stress levels increase across the campus of Sacred Hearts Academy. Most say it is due to the demands that come with being a junior or senior, while others point to their personal lives as adding stress. Whatever the cause, Academy students say they learn to deal with stress in their own way.

For junior Journey Flores, art has been a savior in managing stress levels.

Junior Journey Flores relieves the stress that school can cause through drawing. All photos by Carlee Marcello.

“I like to display any kind of emotion through art,” she said. “No matter if I’m down or not, I just pick up a pencil and draw. That’s what keeps me going.” 

Her sources of stress not only sprout from the countless amount of assignments but also from her social life. Some of the relationships that Flores shared with people turned out to be not as they seemed. 

Similarly, junior Danielle Torres hyper focuses on activities like making art and doing puzzles to relieve stress. Some stress sources for Torres include schoolwork, extra-curricular activities and being at a school like the Academy itself.

“Being a college preparatory school means that we are all held at a high level, which adds even more pressure,” Torres said. However, creativity is not the only way of coping with stress. Torres also resorts to meeting with mental health professionals or practicing self-care. She will also just take a nap. 

Self-care has been at the top of the list of stress management for juniors Gigi Hioki and Reina Moriguchi. What causes Hioki to be stressed is the workload and the amount of pressure to succeed at the Academy. She is also involved

in extracurricular activities, like swimming. To bring down her stress levels, Hioki enjoys hanging out with friends.

“We always have a nice time, and it’s really nice to talk things out,” Hioki said. 

She describes hangouts where she and her friends just have conversations in a relaxing environment. In contrast, Moriguchi likes to take time to herself. Deadlines piling up and extracurriculars that take away time from meeting those deadlines causes stress for Moriguchi. Isolating herself allows for her to be more productive and efficient.

Junior Reina Moriguchi works alone in the library to complete assignments. Photo by Carlee Marcello

“I find it’s less distracting when I do so,” Moriguchi said. Despite having contrasting coping mechanisms when it comes to the people around them, Hioki and Moriguchi both find sources of entertainment stress relieving. Hioki finds herself enjoying movies.

“It’s a very nice outlet for me,” Hioki said. 

Moriguchi enjoys listening to music. 

“It gives me a bit of relief and a break from thinking of everything that I have to get done,” Moriguchi said. 


Finding their personal way of relief 

Each student was given the ability to find a stress-reliever that fits and is effective for them. For Moriguchi and Flores, their coping strategies have been something that has always been a part of their lives. 

“It was just always there; art was always in my life,” Flores said. 

“For music, I’ve just always loved listening to music, and it’s been a therapeutic mechanism in my daily life for years, so it’s only right that it has also found its way into my educational life,” Moriguchi said.


Confiding in professionals for help

The Academy’s high school counselor Melinda Rocha shares the advice that she provides to her students. She recommends that the students use something that they love and are passionate about as an outlet for stress. Taking a break from the root of the stress and talking to a loved one are other forms of coping that Rocha recommends. 

“Sometimes, a good way of dealing with stress is by allowing yourself to just cry it out,” she said. “It’s your body’s only way of releasing stress before it turns into anger, so a good cry is always, ALWAYS a good way to relieve the stress.” 


Pandemic’s impact on stress levels

According to Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, stress levels in high school students have increased due to increased work, less engagement in school and strained relationships. The Academy’s students share this experience. 

“(It was) definitely one of the lowest points of my life,” Hioki said. “The pandemic worsened my stress level. I was in an awful mood everyday, and barely had a sleep schedule as I wasn’t even getting sleep.”  

Flores also experienced a stress increase during the pandemic due to staying online for the entirety of her sophomore year. 

However, Torres and Moriguchi did not share the heightened stress that many high school students experienced throughout the pandemic. 

“During the pandemic, we attended school online, (and) my stress levels decreased significantly (because) I was able to sleep longer and use my time efficiently,” Torres said. 

The pandemic gave Moriguchi the opportunity to learn how to relieve stress.

“Before, I never really considered how I coped with stress, but in retrospect, I always felt the need to stay up into the early mornings trying to complete any work I could,” Moriguchi said. “This took a toll on my mental health and physical health in a major way. However, with COVID, I’ve had time to reflect and reset, which gave me the opportunity to find better ways of coping with my stress.”