How To Overcome Stress at School: Homework, Social & More

As a student, where do you spend most of your waking hours? Aside from a few blissful weeks of summer vacation, chances are that the majority of your time is spent at school or doing school-related activities.

School and all that comes with it…teachers, friends, cliques, learning, social climate, extra-curricular activities, etc. are some of the most influential experiences of your life. What goes on in and around school plays a major role in how you develop during some of your most formative years. It’s important to know how to handle the different and difficult facets of your school years.

Schoolwork

Whether you’re a straight-A student or barely scraping by, schoolwork is bound to cause you stress from time to time. According to one Stanford study, more than half of students surveyed agreed that homework was a major source of their stress.

If schoolwork has you overwhelmed, you’re certainly not alone. There could be a number of reasons for this.

Some of us may feel stressed by homework simply due to the way it consumes your time. If you’re a student with a number of extracurricular activities, it may be hard to find time to complete work at home. When you don’t get home from a soccer tournament until 8 PM and you try to squeeze in a family dinner, rehearsing lines for the school play, and cleaning your bedroom, it can be difficult to make the decision between getting to bed at a reasonable hour and finishing those calculus problems and AP history notes.

Studies also show that perfectionism has substantially increased in recent years. This is causing a lot of undue stress as students strive to meet unrealistic expectations they are setting for themselves.

This kind of stress can be disorienting, and the overwhelming realization of all the work you have to complete can leave you paralyzed in the face of your mountain of work. When it seems impossible to get everything done, sometimes our reaction is to get nothing done.

Schoolwork may also cause stress and anxiety simply because it is difficult. Whether you’re taking a challenging set of classes, you have a learning disability, or school is just something that you struggle with as a whole, school can be a source of stress if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

Difficulties with schoolwork can do a real number on your self-esteem. If we’re honest with ourselves, none of us likes to feel dumb. Struggling to learn material that everyone else seems to understand can bruise the ego. When schoolwork leaves us demoralized, the temptation can be to avoid it altogether.

Another reason that schoolwork may make us feel pressured might be of our own doing. When we brush work under the rug because we’d rather be doing something else, it can turn into this mountain of stress that we continually avoid. When that avoided work starts to show up as zeros on the report card, it can be demoralizing.

In each of these circumstances, it’s important to allow yourself a bit of grace. Know yourself and know your capabilities. If you’re doing your best, feel confident that your accomplishments are enough, even if they don’t meet the impossible expectations we often set for ourselves.

At the same time, it’s important to set ourselves up for success. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a teacher or seek out a tutor. They are there for a reason.

Right now is also the perfect time to begin creating habits that will point you toward success. You’re much better off taking a little bit of time every day managing your schoolwork than constantly avoiding it and feeling horrible about yourself because it was left unaccomplished. Learn those positive proactive habits now to begin a life of self-discipline and success.

Social Life

If the actual work of school doesn’t give you much trouble, chances are that the social aspect will prove difficult at some point. And this may be more true than it ever has in history.

With the advent of social media, the opportunities for bullying and rampant feelings of loneliness have increased in spite of the ways technology claims to bring people together. It is harder to escape bullying when it isn’t just in the school hallway any longer, but follows you home on your phone. And according to Psychology Today, people who spend more time on social media report more feelings of loneliness than those who use social platforms less. Especially at a time when phones and Instagram are commonplace for school-aged people, the social anxiety and stress caused by social media use can be extremely detrimental to teens’ mental health.

When making friends online is as simple as a few clicks, it can be disheartening to go to school and find that making real flesh-and-blood friendships is more difficult.

This isn’t to say that online support networks are evil or serve no purpose. The data simply shows that they can be a hindrance to mental health and social flourishing. It is vital to have a support network that you can meet IRL.

It is important to invest time in a few real friendships.  You don’t need to be the most popular or have a huge group of friends. But put yourself out there to find people similar to you and treat them the way you would want to be treated as a friend. Beginning any sort of relationship, even friendships, means taking a risk. But those who accept you for who you really are, not how you present yourself online or how you pretend to be around them, are the type of people who can become a vital source of support – the kind who can hold your hand through tough times and give you a hug when you need it. Flesh and blood friendships aren’t as easy as online ones, but they are infinitely more fulfilling and a necessary part of being human.

Self-Discovery

Beyond anything else, you may feel school pressures because you’re trying to figure out who you are in what feels like an extremely short window of time. You likely feel expectations that you’ll know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Trying to figure out your place in the world is a tremendously difficult part of your school years.

When dealing with these challenges, remember that the best thing you can do is be yourself (as obscure and cliché as that advice may seem).

God has created you with a purpose. Seek God through prayer and reading the Bible and ask Him to guide and direct your steps. Look to Him to give you peace when you are stressed and comfort when you feel let-down by a relationship. God will always be there for you. Even when you aren’t looking for Him, He’s there, waiting for you to turn back to Him.

Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. (Matt. 11:28-29 TPT)

While you’re still searching for that support, TheHopeLine has lots of resources (blogs, ebooks, podcasts, and more) to help you with all of the difficult side-effects of school pressures. Search our library for answers to important questions like:

  • How Do I Handle Bullying?
  • What Does It Look Like To Be “Myself”?
  • What Can I Do When I Feel Lonely?

FAQ on School Pressures:

Is it Normal to Have Anxiety About School and Work?

Back-to-school anxiety and back-to-work stress are normal, but neither has to be overwhelming. You might calm anxious feelings by thinking about: What you’re looking forward to about your classes or job. Seeing old friends you’ve missed. Everything you’ve learned that can help you feel ready for the next step. Prep you can do ahead of time so a school or workday is less stressful. Ways to find support and encouragement. You’re not alone. There’s help for when you're overwhelmed about work and school.

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